Manhattan drug bust nets 77 pounds of heroin, fentanyl mix; 2 charged

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- Two men are under arrest in connection with a Manhattan drug bust that netted more than 77 pounds of a suspected heroin and fentanyl mix featuring the name and photograph of drug lord Pablo Escobar on its packaging.

Authorities say Ariel Hernandez and Luisuidyn Garcia Mena were behind a narcotics trafficking group operating in Harlem and were in possession of drugs worth more than $10 million.

Agents with the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force seized the majority of the narcotics in brick form during a search of an apartment on Lenox Avenue, authorities said, while a small amount was found when Hernandez was stopped by officers who searched a backpack in his possession.

In addition to some packaging featuring the photo of Pablo Escobar and others having his name written on them, some also had code names and labels featuring photos of airplanes.

"Opioid-related deaths are at a record high and it is our job to investigate those responsible for illicit drug distribution," DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan said. "This organization used a photo of Pablo Escobar, who was known as the King of Cocaine, to mark their product. Albeit, this seizure was not cocaine, it shows a sign of the times, that heroin and fentanyl are the traffickers most profitable and plentiful product and the public's deadliest threat."

Agents also seized $200,000 in cash from the apartment.

"The NYPD and our law enforcement partners never stop working to intercept illegal drugs like heroin and fentanyl," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said. "These drugs are highly addictive, and they're deadly. The people who deal these drugs should know that we'll do everything in our power to identify them and hold them fully responsible for the destruction they cause.

Hernandez faces first- and third-degree charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance, while Garcia Mena faces charges of conspiracy and false personation.

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