Today it was announced DEA has made its fourth largest heroin seizure in the U. S. after a year long investigation that has lead to the arrest of four members of a narcotics trafficking network. On Sunday, May 17, agents arrested the head of the multi-million dollar heroin organization, Jose A. Mercedes, aka “Hippie,” and a second defendant, Yenci Cruz Francisco. Over 70 kilograms of heroin, worth up to $50 million, plus $2 million in cash and a firearm were seized from a vehicle and an apartment in the Fieldston section of the Bronx, near Horace Mann School and adjacent to Van Cortlandt Park. Mercedes and Francisco were charged with operating as a major trafficker and criminal possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree.
It was learned though a court authorized wiretap that Mercedes and his drug trafficking group received sizable shipments of heroin at least once a month from suppliers in Culican, Mexico, an area controlled by the Sinaloa Cartel. It was also learned that there was more then a possibility the organization would receive a large load of heroin over the weekend. Surveillance was set up outside 210 West 251st St., Apt. 5E, in Fieldston, where the organization was suspected of maintaining a stash location. DEA reports show that late Saturday, agents tracked a Chevrolet Suburban and a Honda Accord driven by Mercedes, Cruz Francisco and a third individual as they traveled from 210 West 251st St. to an industrial parking lot off of Interstate 287 in Montville, N.J. The vehicles entered a section of the industrial lot where tractor-trailers were parked and after more than an hour, the Chevrolet Suburban and Honda Accord headed back to the Bronx.
Upon reaching 210 West 251st St., the Chevrolet Suburban was parked in a gated parking lot behind the building were on request the Yonkers Police Department dispatched a K-9 Unit and obtained a positive hit for narcotics on the Chevrolet Suburban. Surveillance continued on the location and on Sunday agents observed Mercedes arrive in a Kia Sorrento and stopped him for questioning. During this stop, several large bags containing a tan powdery substance were recovered from the front seat of the car and from a hidden compartment in the center console. Testing on one of the bags proved it was positive for heroin.
Agents then observed Cruz Francisco leaving 210 West 251st St., enter the Chevrolet Suburban and start the engine. Agents stopped him and obtained a court authorized search warrant for the vehicle. While searching the vehicle a hidden compartment was found under the floor of the vehicle that contained 70 rectangular-shaped kilogram packages of heroin labeled with the identifying name of “Rolex.” Also found inside the vehicle was $24,000 cash. Agents conducted a series of court authorized searches at apartments associated with the group. Inside 210 West 251st St., Apt. 5E, agents recovered $2 million from underneath the floorboards. A search of 830 Magenta St., Apt. 2J, in the Bronx yielded a .380 caliber firearm.
The organization is believed to have served as a main source of heroin for customers throughout the five boroughs, as well as Connecticut, Rhode Island Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Mercedes and Cruz Francisco were arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court and held without bail, with their next court date set for Friday, May 22.
On November 17, 2014. Mercedes’ son Jose Mercedes, JR. and defendant Juan Infante were arrested at 2851 Webb Ave., Apt. 1D, in the Bronx, where members of the NYDETF and HSI seized another 10 kilograms of heroin (22 lbs.) that had been hidden in a compartment inside a wall. They were charged with criminal possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, criminal possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree and two counts each of criminally using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree.