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New York City authorities bust massive amount of heroin, fentanyl branded as ‘COVID-19,’ ‘Drop Dead’

Three drug dealers who used “COVID-19” and “Drop Dead” to mark their heroin and fentanyl loads were busted in New York City in June with $ 5 million worth of drugs, prosecutors said Friday. 

Authorities seized nearly 40 pounds of both drugs from the suspected traffickers in two Morris Heights apartments in the Bronx and a vehicle during a June 11 bust, the New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutors office said. 

“This seizure of 40 pounds of heroin and fentanyl has saved lives,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said. “The fact that the packagers used ‘COVID-19’ as a brand name illustrates the callousness of these alleged traffickers, as opioid overdose deaths surged during the pandemic.”

Three suspect drug traffickers used a variety of code names to brand their drugs, including "COVID-19" and Drop Dead," authorities said. 

Three suspect drug traffickers used a variety of code names to brand their drugs, including “COVID-19″ and Drop Dead,” authorities said. 
(New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor )

The indictment charges alleged traffickers Hector Morillo, 46; Jaime Artiles, 47; and Freddy Hernandez-Reyes, 44, with operating as a major trafficker in possession of a controlled substance in the first and third degrees. They were all arraigned Friday. 

On June 11, agents with the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force Group T-22 were surveilling the two apartments at 1730 Montgomery Avenue. At 5:15 a.m., they observed Artiles park a Honda Pilot, followed by Reyes carrying a weighted-down bag out of the building to the car. 

Agents seized 40 pounds of alleged heroin and fentanyl during a bust in the Bronx. The drugs were branded with several names such as "COVID-19" and "Drop Dead," officials said. 

Agents seized 40 pounds of alleged heroin and fentanyl during a bust in the Bronx. The drugs were branded with several names such as “COVID-19” and “Drop Dead,” officials said. 
(New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor )

Reyes then re-entered the apartment building with a light blue bag. Agents followed Artiles and the vehicle with the weighted-down bag in the back as he stopped at the Interstate 95 lower level near the George Washington Bridge.

Around 10:30 a.m., agents allegedly saw Morillo circle the block around the building before entering. He and Reyes were both seen leaving unit 4G. They then exited unit 6E shortly afterward, authorities said.

Agents found $  5 million worth of drugs inside two Bronx apartments and a vehicle during a June 11 bust, officials said Friday. 

Agents found $ 5 million worth of drugs inside two Bronx apartments and a vehicle during a June 11 bust, officials said Friday. 
(New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor )

Reyes was carrying three plastic bags, including one appearing to contain stamps and envelopes used for branding and packaging doses of drugs, officials said. The agents stopped both men and searched the bags, which allegedly contained 1.5 kilograms of heroin and fentanyl.

Morillo also had an ID card issued by Dominican Republic National Investigations, which prosecutors believe was fraudulently obtained. Agents obtained a search warrant later that day for both apartments where they found heroin and fentanyl in brick and powder form, thousands of packages of glassine envelopes containing a mixture of heroin and fentanyl, packaging equipment, stamps, grinders and scales, authorities said. 

The results of DEA Laboratory analysis on some of the substances seized in the case are pending, officials said.

The stamps were branded with names like “COVID-19″ and Drop Dead” below an image of a skull. 

Hector Morillo, 46, was found with an ID fromt he Dominican Republica National Investigation, authorities said. 

Hector Morillo, 46, was found with an ID fromt he Dominican Republica National Investigation, authorities said. 
(New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor )

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“Here in New York City, 75% of all drug overdoses are linked to fentanyl. Fentanyl is death,” said Ray Donovan, the Drug Enforcement Administration special agent in charge. 

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Woman severely injured when firework explodes in face in Sugar Land, authorities say

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) — A woman was severely injured when a firework she lit exploded in her face during Fourth of July celebrations in a parking lot in Sugar Land, authorities say.

It happened around 11:40 p.m. Sunday in a shopping center parking lot on Highway 6 and Voss Road, but people were still out popping fireworks as late as 1 a.m. Monday.

According to authorities, people had been using the parking lot to set off fireworks all night.

In the woman’s case, she lit a firework, but didn’t clear the area in time before it detonated.

The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office and emergency crews responded to the scene and found the woman, who was being tended to by her family.

She had significant trauma to her face, officials said.

“The girl, she was trying to light the fireworks, then she tripped on it while she was trying to light it up. And her whole face was injured. Half of her face,” said witness Laiba Kanwal.

She was flown via LifeFlight to the hospital downtown.

Authorities did not provide an update on her condition.

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Suspect's wife turned India the Tiger over to authorities on Saturday, HPD says

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — The missing tiger named India was found safe on Saturday and is being held at an animal shelter, according to Houston police.Officers with HPD’s Major Offender’s Division said the big cat appeared to be in good health and unharmed.

India was safely handed over by Victor Cuevas’ wife, Gia, HPD said.

The tiger disappeared after being spotted in the custody of a murder suspect last Sunday.When authorities responded to calls about the tiger being loose in a neighborhood, Victor Hugo Cuevas put it in his car and fled the scene.

It’s not clear who kept the tiger after that, but Cuevas was put back in jail for violating the terms of his release.

RELATED: Owner of tiger roaming loose in Houston neighborhood was out on bond in 2017 murder, records show

Cuevas is facing charges for a 2017 murder.

Friday, a judge put him back in the fort bend county jail on a $ 300,000 bond.An attorney for Cuevas said his client is not the owner of the tiger, but does keep the animal for its owner from time to time.

Cuevas’ attorney claims his client has expressed regret about the tiger incident.

The video featured is from a previous report.

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Author: Miya Shay

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Boxing star ‘wanted by authorities over missing woman who was last seen at his home telling him she was pregnant with his baby’

Boxer Felix Verdejo is “of interest” in the investigation of a missing woman whose body may have been found drowned in Puerto Rico, according to reports claiming that she disappeared after telling him she was carrying his child.

Keishla Marlen Rodriguez Ortiz has been missing since Thursday morning, causing local officials to issue a Pink Alert as part of a new bill passed in October to help speed up the process of finding missing women against a backdrop of increasing gender violence on the island.

The alert is for adult women whose disappearances are linked to domestic violence, hate crimes or crimes of a sexual nature, and Ortiz’s sister, Bereliz Nichole, accompanied the move with a video on Facebook appealing for information.

Several local accounts on social media have alleged that the body of a pregnant woman whose blonde hair matched Ortiz’s has since been found floating in a lake, with her family called to identify whether the body is hers.

Verdejo was contacted by criminal investigators on Thursday, according to Boxing Scene, which has said that he initially “shut down” an interview before agreeing to voluntarily meet them with his attorney.

The account also quoted a local news publication which said that Verdejo and Rodriguez were allegedly romantically linked in the past, and reported that Rodriguez’s last location was at his home, where she is said to have arrived with a pregnancy test and the intention of telling him that he was the father.

According to the investigation, the last known location for Rodriguez was at Verdejo’s home where she allegedly arrived with a pregnancy test in tow and to inform the boxer that he was the father.

Ortiz was last officially seen in a car that was found abandoned in the municipality of Canovanas, ESPN said, adding that a police commissioner had told reporters that they were “still looking for [her] alive” and collaborating with the FBI.

“We are interviewing several people who are close to her,” said Police Commissioner López Figueroa, announcing that their information suggested Verdejo had known Ortiz for “11 or 12 years”.

“Countless people are going to be summoned. Anyone who had any contact with her, any romantic relationship, we are also interviewing.” Verdejo’s wife, Eliz Marie Santiago, is also said to have spoken to investigators on Friday.

Verdejo, 27, has scored 17 knockouts in an impressive 29-fight defeat that has only seen him beaten twice.

The most recent of those was in December, when he unsuccessfully challenged Masayoshi Nakatani for the WBO Inter-Continental lightweight title, suffering a ninth-round knockout in Las Vegas.

The former London 2012 Olympic Games competitor for his country had been on a run of four wins before his bid for the belt failed.
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Man shot on feeder road during possible road rage shooting in Spring, authorities say

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) — Deputies with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office are investigating whether a shooting on the North Freeway may have been sparked by road rage.

It happened on Thursday around 1:45 p.m. in the 25000 block of I-45 N in Spring.

Deputies said a man was shot while driving on the feeder road near Louetta Road. He was rushed to the hospital and is expected to fully recovery. Two others were in his bullet-riddled truck at the time of the shooting.

“It was shocking. I didn’t expect to get that phone call,” said Gabriela Ibarra, the victim’s co-worker.

Ibarra said she was driving just ahead of the victim. They were all heading to a job site when the shooting happened.

“He got hit in the lower abdomen,” she said. “I would recommend people be careful.”

Investigators said the suspect, who was described as a Hispanic man with “neatly trimmed facial hair” possibly wearing a baseball cap and a blue shirt, may be driving a tan Chevrolet truck with a white hood and a white tailgate.

Tammy Morris, who was an innocent bystander, told Eyewitness News her car was hit by gunfire.

“I heard a sound go off like it was a backfire, but after you hear about four or five ‘Pow! Pow! Pow!’ … it was more like gunfire,” she recalled. “Then I heard it hit my truck. Then the truck next to me sped off and went under the underpass of the freeway at Rayford and I pulled over immediately to check my truck and myself to see if anything had been shot. My truck had been shot a couple times by some stray bullets.”

The shooting is potentially the third road rage shooting just this week in the Houston area. On Monday, the Harris County Pct. 4 Constable’s Office responded to one near Humble. Houston police responded to a road rage shooting in north Houston that same day.

Anyone with information about Thursday’s shooting is urged to contact the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office at 936-760-5800 and refer to case #21A297798.

You can also submit an anonymous tip to Multi-County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-392-STOP (7867).

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Man caught illegally dumping tires is repeat offender, Harris County authorities say

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — A man known for illegally dumping used tires is accused of doing the same thing again.

Harris County Precinct 1 Deputy Constables’ office said they arrested Darrell Walson Monday, but it’s not his first illegal dumping offense. Watson is said to have a history of illegal dumping convictions dating back to 2009.

According to the deputy constables’ office, Watson appeared in video from cameras in the 5200 block of Mayle Street on March 16. He is also believed to be responsible for the tires that were dumped two days later at the same location, as well as weeks prior in February.

Authorities said the videos show people dumping tires from a U-Haul van onto the sides of the street on three different days. In all, investigators said they discovered 176 used tires from 18-wheelers at Mayle Street.

Watson was recognized in the video “because of (investigators) prior experience with him,” the deputy constables’ office wrote. They report that Watson plead guilty on Feb. 21, 2021 to a charge of illegal dumping.

They add he was wearing an ankle monitor at the time of the most recent incidents.

“Mr. Watson clearly has no intent of stopping his illegal activity,” said Constable Alan Rosen. “A judge let him off easy last time with deferred adjudication. Watson has proven he is a repeat offender and that a slap on the wrist won’t stop him from creating these dangerous eyesores in our neighborhoods.”

According to the statement, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office accepted the charge on the case as a state jail felony of commercial dumping.

If convicted, Watson could get 10 years in prison.

The case remains under investigation.

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