Despite the concerted efforts of many dedicated law enforcement agencies over the years, the war on drugs started by former President Richard Nixon is still being fought. It seems that no matter how many drug runners and criminal kingpins they bring down, five more rise beneath them to fill their ranks.
This is a story that shows that all hope is not lost. There are many folks out there doing their best to keep the rest of us safe from the perils out there. It may be a hard road ahead, but strides are being made…
New York City doesn’t have the most stellar reputation when it comes to crime. For decades, centuries even, the back alleys and abandoned buildings of the Big Apple have been a hotbed of petty crime, organized criminal enterprises, and since the 1960s, drug peddlers. It’s a situation that’s gotten better in recent years, but not by leaps and bounds or anything.
In the most recent string of crimes, large quantities of drugs have been flooding into the New York City area from Mexico. These drugs are the bread and butter of one of the most terrifying new drug cartels to arrive from south of the border in the past three decades: the brutal Sinaloa Cartel…
Known as “El Chapo” for his short, stocky frame, Joaquín Guzmán, is the ingenious 55-year-old whose Mexican drug empire rivaled that of famed gangster, Pablo Escobar. His track record as leader of the Sinaloa Cartel is punctuated by at least 3 escapes from capture and a ruthlessness towards his enemies that gives new meaning to the term sadistic.
Since the death of Pablo Escobar in 1993, El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel has been capitalizing on the power vacuum and raking in a fortune. They took over the sale and distribution of not only Columbian cocaine but also marijuana, methamphetamines, and recently opiates and illegal narcotics of every kind…
The drug that most interested the NYC police department, however, was something called Fentanyl. This opioid, which is used as a pain medication, is often mixed together with other medications for use as an anesthesia drug. It hits fast and even harder than heroin, and it lasts up to two hours.
Cheap and Potent
On top of all that, fentanyl is also cheaper to produce than heroin. This means that the potential profit margin is much higher than heroin and therefore a better sell. It’s just as addictive though and repeat customers are a common occurrence. These factors all add up to a dangerous import for people in the NY area…
Today, all across the Tri-State area, opiate abuse and overdoses related to things like fentanyl have skyrocketed. The same conditions apply all across the nation and the death toll has been steadily rising over the years. The people of the United States are looking for anything that can take them out of their depression and it seems that more and more, opiates are the drug of choice.
Last year alone, seizures increased from 35 pounds to 491 pounds, but this hasn’t stopped the drug from coming into the US. And even these staggering numbers have not stopped the number of fatal overdoses tied to fentanyl from persisting. They reached an all-time high of more than 1,400 in New York City in 2017. The police needed to find where it was coming from…
In order to track down the source of these drugs, the Sinaloa Cartel, NYC police officers and DEA agents began tracking the shipments back to one Mexican lieutenant in the Sinaloa Cartel, a man named Francisco Quiroz-Zamora. This was the man who oversaw the delivery of multi-kilogram loads of fentanyl to New York.
The US authorities subsequent investigation found that Quiroz-Zamora lived in San Jose del Cabo in Baja, but they also discovered his scheme as well. He had the drugs smuggled by cars, trucks, and couriers over the border into Arizona and California, After that, the supplies would be sent to New York for distribution…
The investigation began last year when an undercover officer posing as a drug dealer infiltrated his way into Quiroz-Zamora’s camp. He even spoke to the new drug lord by phone and struck a deal with him to buy an amount of fentanyl worth between $45,000 and $50,000 per kilo. He would meet the drug lord in NYC.
In November of last year, Francisco Quiroz-Zamora traveled to New York to collect payment from the undercover officer. He had no reason to believe that there was anything wrong. After all, he’d been selling drugs to New York for years without any whiff of authorities catching on. He proceeded to Manhattan as if nothing was wrong…
His misplaced confidence notwithstanding, agents intercepted Quiroz-Zamora just as his train pulled into Penn Station in Manhattan. The 41-year-old was arrested before he could even mount any sort of an escape and was taken into custody. Now that they had him, they had to connect him unequivocally to the fentanyl.
How Many Pounds?
The authorities were able to connect him with the seizure of more than 44 pounds of fentanyl the prior year. They had received a tip that someone was passing the opioid out of a hotel in the Bronx and also at an apartment in upper Manhattan which Quiroz-Zamora was using as stash houses…
That Manhattan apartment, located a Central Park West, was actually one quite a few people might recognize: particularly native New Yorkers. You see, that Central Park West building was used for exterior shots of Elaine Benes’ apartment in the popular 90’s sitcom “Seinfeld.” The interior of course was all shot in Los Angeles.
Francisco Quiroz-Zamora was facing down drug-trafficking conspiracy charges as a result of the investigation. The agencies who ran it, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Office of Special Narcotics, and other law enforcement agencies, had all worked together to make it so…
“This indictment demonstrates our collaborative approach and commitment to tracking those at the top of the lethal supply chain and putting them out of business permanently,” explained Bridget Brennan. Now all that was left was seeing if any of Quiroz-Zamora’s men rolled with him at all.
The feds had Francisco Quiroz-Zamora over a barrel, but he pleaded not guilty just the same. He was held without bail and another defendant, Carlos Ramirez, was also held on a $2000,000 bail. He too pleaded not guilty. Obviously, his attorney maintains that his client is not guilty…
An Eye on Drugs
“Every day, this department is focused on intercepting deadly drugs headed for New York City….My thanks to the detectives, agents, and prosecutors whose work makes New York City safer.” said NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill. It just goes to show that even with one drug peddler safely in custody, the NYPD is still dedicated to fighting drugs at every opportunity.
Almost as important as the lives they saved, this investigation also helped to provide some insight into the Sinaloa Cartel as it currently exists with El Chapo still in custody. Hopefully taking down drug traffickers like Francisco Quiroz-Zamora will slow things down and deal a powerful blow to whoever is running the cartel today.