A dog’s good nose helped authorities make a huge bust on Tuesday night when they caught two men in Queens attempting to transport about $14 million of heroin.
At about 8 p.m. the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force — made up of members of the DEA, NYPD and New York State Police — were conducting surveillance near Northern Boulevard and 84th Street in Elmhurst as part of an ongoing investigation into heroin distribution organizations operating in the Northeast.
During this time, authorities observed a blue pick-up truck and a silver pick-up truck – both with North Carolina license plates — towing a hitch trailer and driving together, according to the office of the city’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor.
A trained search dog then alerted authorities to the presence of controlled substances in one of the pick-up trucks and the two drivers — Guatamalan natives Peter Omar Garcia-Romero and Jose Guadencio Lantan-Vela — were taken into custody. Garcia-Romero was a resident of North Carolina, while Lantan-Vela entered the U.S. on a travel visa on Jan. 15.
The vehicles were taken to the DEA’s Manhattan headquarters where a search warrant was executed on both trucks.
Heroin was found hidden within acar axle casing that was in the bed of the silver pick-up truck. The axle was dissembled in three parts; and the heroin was found in the axle and the drive shaft casings, authorities said. The heroin was pressed into round shapes to fit in the axle casing and packaged in square shapes to fit in the drive shaft.
The DEA estimates that the black market value of the heroin found was at least $14 million.