A major opioid mill that operated out of a house on East 36th Street, across the street from mayor Andre Sayegh’s residence, was raided on Tuesday morning yielding 17,000 wax folds of heroin and fentanyl, announced New Jersey attorney general Gurbir Grewal.
Detectives arrested the alleged operators of the drug mill — Rafael Brito, also known as “Chiquito,” 33, and his girlfriend, Rosanny Prado, 38 – on charges of operating a drug production facility, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, fortifying a drug manufacturing facility, intent to deal in a school zone, and possession of heroin.
Brito and Prado were allegedly operating the drug production facility out of the home’s basement. During the raid, detectives found more than 17,000 wax folds of heroin and fentanyl as well as milling equipment and packaging materials.
Detectives also seized rubber ink stamps bearing the same brand names – “Empire,” “Panda,” “100%,” “777,” “Bat,” “BEE,” and “Call Me” — that have been linked to 18 overdoses, including 10 deaths, said authorities. Empire is tied to 4 fatal and 5 non-fatal overdoses; Panda is linked to 3 fatal overdoses; 100% is connected to 2 fatal overdoses; 777 is tied to 1 fatal overdose; Bat is connected to 1 non-fatal overdose; Bee is tied to 1 non-fatal overdose; and Call Me is linked to 1 non-fatal overdose.
“By shutting down this drug mill and preventing over 17,000 doses of suspected heroin and fentanyl from reaching our communities, we undoubtedly saved lives, particularly given the fact that we seized ink stamps bearing brand names that have been linked to at least 10 fatal overdoses,” said Grewal. “Through collaborative investigations of this type, we’re arresting the drug traffickers who callously gamble with the lives of drug users by carelessly mixing and distributing this lethal combination of opioids.”
The investigation that led to the arrest and drug seizures was conducted by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau and the Paterson Police Department Narcotics Division, according to the announcement.
Authorities said the house was equipped with surveillance cameras and two video monitors set up over tables in the basement.
“Paterson is a regional hub for opioid distribution, with many drug users and suppliers coming into the city to obtain heroin from the northern suburbs of New Jersey, as well as New York and Pennsylvania,” said Veronica Allende, director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work closely with the Paterson Police Department and our other law enforcement partners to disrupt this major opioid market.”
Police chief Ibrahim Baycora thanked the state for its assistance in the bust.
Brito and Prado are being held at the Passaic County Jail pending a judicial hearing. Each faces a maximum of 55 years in state prison if convicted on the five charges. Both also face hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of fines, said authorities.