NEW YORK (WABC) -- Federal drug agents, the NYPD and the Bronx District Attorney announced the largest cocaine seizure in New York City in recent years Wednesday.
They say the bust, involving 19 defendants, amplifies the recent trend of cocaine becoming a stronger drug threat.
Authorities say larger loads are being sent directly to New York, and that there is more production in Colombia, where producers are apparently mixing cocaine with fentanyl to satisfy the opioid-addicted.
The seizure included 176 pounds of cocaine, with an estimated street value of nearly $3 million.
In this case, authorities say the dealers joined forces to corner the market for cocaine on the street and in clubs around the city.
Officials say the traffickers exploited the addicted and sought new customers in the club scene, pushing fentanyl-laced cocaine along with Ecstasy and Ketamine.
"These drugs devastate lives and neighborhoods," said Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.
The cocaine was intended to be sold in $10 and $20 packets in neighborhoods in the Bronx as well as nightclubs in the Bronx and Manhattan.
The large seizure is an indication that demand for cocaine has not waned amid the current opioid crisis.
"What is significant about this seizure is that it indicates a new customer base of cocaine users in New York City," said Farhana Islam of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The yearlong investigation culminated with a takedown May 1. Of the 19 people indicted, 17 are under arrest.
In addition, two of the defendants allegedly conspired to import pills from overseas, via international mail.
Authorities in Brussels, Belgium, intercepted 1.25 pounds of pure controlled substances before they could reach their destinations in the Bronx and Manhattan.
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Officials seize $3 million in cocaine, 19 arrested in New York City drug bust
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