New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan met with NY1 in the Bronx to share exclusive details about the arrests of nine people and the takedown of what the prosecutor says is a family-run drug operation.
Brennan says what’s unique about this case is that the family is accused of doing more than selling pills. They were allegedly making them with commercial pill presses.
“They could manufacture their own fentanyl pills and their own methamphetamine pills,” said Brennan. “So the methamphetamine pills found here were rainbow colored, all kinds of colors made to look kind of like ecstasy.”
She alleges the fentanyl pills found were made to look exactly like prescription pills, such as OxyContin and Xanax. The city’s special narcotics prosecutor says it unclear if people knew they were buying fentanyl instead of the prescription drugs that many are addicted to.
According to one of the criminal complaints, approximately 100,000 pills containing methamphetamine and 20,000 pills containing fentanyl were recovered—along with two kilograms containing fentanyl and a pressing machine to make kilo packages.
It was found in a boiler room of a building on Woodycrest Ave. in the Bronx, two blocks from Yankee Stadium. When we went there, the boiler room was locked, but law enforcement say some items were hidden behind a makeshift wall. The super of the Bronx building was also arrested.
After the indictment was unsealed Wednesday morning, prosecutors and police said instead of the 100,000 methamphetamine pills recovered in the Bronx, they lowered the number to 50,000 pills.
All nine of the arrests came after a three-and-a-half year investigation with physical and video surveillance, as well as recordings of cellphone conversations. The accused family operated out of Upper Manhattan buildings on West 179th St. and West 185th St. They allegedly sold pills to other distributors as well, with drugs going to and from Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
“Four of them were related: two brothers, a sister, and an uncle,” said Brennan.
Brothers Edwin and Elvis Cabrera are the accused ring leaders. Although they are not currently charged for anyone’s death in using the highly dangerous fentanyl pills, Brennan warns those buying pills need to understand the risk beyond addiction.
“Fentanyl is found in about 80% of the overdoses here in New York City. It’s a major problem,” Brennan said.
The city’s special narcotics prosecutors has been in office 25 years and appointed by the district attorneys from each borough. Brennan has seen a lot of deadly drug trends over the years and says the opioid crisis is bad. The Journal pediatrics recently reported it’s killing the youngest of victims.
“Right now ago, the report just came out a couple of weeks ago, that the leading cause of poisoning of children under the age of six is opioids,” Brennan said. “They either get into somebody’s supply of pills or the powder, the residue kills them.”
She describes that as absolutely tragic.
Brian Kennedy, the defense lawyer for Edwin Cabrera, said, “It seems that law enforcement relied on a confidential informant in this case, and the defense has yet to learn about any other evidence connecting him to the alleged crimes. Mr. Cabrera denies any involvement in a drug ring.”
According to prosecutors, Elvis Cabrera is already locked up on separate charges.
Their sister’s lawyer said she pleads not guilty.