The number of major drug traffickers living outside the law in Queens has been reduced by one, according to the State Police.
Eury Rodriguez, 33, an illegal alien heroin kingpin, was arrested Jan. 31 after nearly two years on the lam, the agency announced.
Rodriguez was allegedly in charge of a major heroin ring that was broken up in March 2011 after an 11-month investigation that resulted in the indictments of 51 people. He is being charged with moving seven kilos of heroin, worth approximately $3.5 million on the street.
The traffickers allegedly shipped the drug from New York City to upstate Buffalo and Rochester. The interception of the seven kilos — some seized in the Bronx and some seized in Buffalo — arguably marks the biggest drug bust in that city’s history, according to Lt. Martin McKee, commander of the State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team in Western New York.
“Obviously Mr. Rodriguez’s illegal activities, at least in this case, had the greatest impact in Buffalo, New York, despite the fact that he was in New York City,” McKee told the Queens Chronicle Tuesday. “But despite the intervening two years and 400 miles between New York City and Buffalo, we were able to track him down.”
Rodriguez, a native of the Dominican Republic, had once been deported for a felony drug conviction and snuck back into the country, McKee added.
“He’s been deported and was able to return to the United States, so he’s clearly adept at concealing his ID,” he said.
The State Police would not say where in Queens Rodriguez was living when he was picked up, without incident, last week, so as to not compromise the agency’s investigation, which is ongoing and expected to lead to more arrests.
Rodriguez faces charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree, conspiracy in the second degree and operating as a major trafficker. Under the state’s Drug Kingpin Law, he could face life in prison if convicted.
Heroin is undergoing a “tremendous resurgence” in popularity, McKee said, in large part because it’s cheaper than prescription opiates such as hydrocodone and oxycodone that are frequently abused.
Oxycodone typically sells for $40 to $60 per pill, the lieutenant said, while a bag of heroin producing the same high goes for just $12 to $15.
“So where a teenager may experiment with and eventually abuse pharmaceutical opiates, as their money wanes or their money runs out, they often turn to the streets to support their opiate habit,” he said.
Each kilo of heroin can be turned into 25,000 to 50,000 of the individual bags that get sold on the street, depending on how much the drug is cut, or “stepped on,” with other substances, McKee explained.
“So even if you got the heroin and didn’t cut it, you’d still have 25,000 bags of heroin and you could sell those for $10 apiece to dealers, who then sell it to the users for $12 or $15,” he said, adding that the drug dealing chain “is a pyramid, and Mr. Rodriguez, we allege, is at the top of the pyramid.”
State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said in announcing the capture of Rodriguez, “We will leave no stone unturned to rid our communities of dangerous criminals who bring illegal drugs into our neighborhoods. These deadly narcotics must be taken off our streets.”