NEWARK, NJ – A Bronx man admitted Tuesday participating in a conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl from a drug mill in the Bronx to locations in New Jersey, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.
Jose Antonio Vasquez Pena, a/k/a “Tono,” 47, pleaded guilty in Newark federal court to an indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute 400 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing fentanyl, Carpenito said.
Dilson Vazquez Genao, 23, Eddie Urena Rodriguez, 35, and Francisco Mercedes Gil, 31, also of the Bronx, New York, pleaded guilty before Judge Salas to the same charges in Sept. 2019, Carpenito said.
Three other individuals – Jhan Carlos Capellan Maldonado, 31, Daury Contreras Ulerio, 34, and Reimon Genao Rosario, 23 – were indicted on the same charge as Pena in Aug. 2019 and their cases are pending, Carpenito said.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, in early February 2019, law enforcement officers learned that Maldonado used an apartment in Bronx to store, mix, and package heroin and fentanyl in distribution quantities. Pena stayed at the apartment in order to safeguard the narcotics and narcotics supplies. Maldonado employed approximately five workers at a time—including Rodriguez, Ulerio, Rosario, Gil, and Genao—to assist in preparing the heroin and fentanyl for distribution, which Maldonado then distributed to customers in New Jersey.
On Feb. 25, 2019, law enforcement officers saw Maldonado drive to a retail store and emerge with several full shopping bags and then drive to the apartment. Genoa came out of the building and met with Maldonado, who got out of his vehicle and gave Genoa the plastic shopping bags. Through its investigation, law enforcement later learned that the plastic shopping bags contained materials to package heroin and fentanyl.
Genoa went back inside the building and was followed by law enforcement officers, who watched as Genoa entered Maldonado’s apartment with a key, still carrying the shopping bags. On Feb. 27, 2019, law enforcement searched Maldonado’s apartment and found seven individuals inside, including Rodriguez, Ulerio, Rosario, Gil, Maldonado, Pena, and Genao. All seven defendants attempted to escape out a window, but all but one – Rosario – were apprehended and arrested by law enforcement officers waiting outside. Rosario was arrested at a later date. Law enforcement recovered nearly a kilogram of fentanyl from the apartment, along with materials to grind and package fentanyl for distribution.
Each defendant faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of life in prison, and a $10 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 27, 2020, Carpentio said.