Queens District Attorney Richard Brown explained Monday how a Colombian drug ring allegedly turned heroin into furniture and was trying to reverse the process in a Maspeth apartment when noxious fumes gave them away.
"I believe this is a first for us," said Brown, referring to a process called "starching" in which heroin is mixed with resin and glue and blended into other objects - in this case fancy scrollwork on headboards of beds.
"We have had suspects employ 'starching' before, but previously it has been clothing and pottery," Brown said. "This time they used beds."
Brown and James Secreto, chief of the Queens Narcotics Bureau, were at Police Headquarters in Manhattan Monday announcing the smashing of two separate Queens drug operations, the seizure of $75 million in narcotics and the arrest of eight suspects.
"The heroin mixture was molded to look like ornate pieces of woodwork that would go on headboards, nightstands and other bedroom furniture," Secreto told a news conference. "This made it easy to smuggle. Turning it back into heroin was harder."
Brown and Secreto said that when the suspects allegedly began trying to turn the mixture of heroin and resins back into pure heroin by using various chemicals, a dreadful odor wafted through the neighborhood and residents complained to police.
"In a three-bedroom apartment at 69-76 57th Drive we found a complex heroin extraction lab where numerous chemicals, including acetone, hydrochloric acid and ethyl acetate were used to melt and purify the heroin," said Secreto.
He said Josue Elcevier Encisco Suarez, 38, of Westbury, L.I. and Jose Parra, 51, of 40-70 Hampton St. in Elmhurst, both Colombians, were arrested last Thursday and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree. Conviction could bring life imprisonment.
Police burst into the Maspeth apartment as Suarez and Parra were allegedly using powerful chemicals to purify the heroin that had been integrated into bed headboards.
"The apartment was filled with choking fumes as our officers arrived," Secreto said.
Police also broke up what they alleged was a cocaine distributing ring based in Jackson Heights and arrested Carlos Fadul, 30, of Hicksville, L.I., identified as the leader of the gang. Others arrested included Fadul's wife, Adrianna, 31, Hicksville, L.I.; Carlos Fadul's brother, Luis Fadul, 27, 35-20 Leverich St., Jackson Heights; Ximena Medina, 28, of 35-20 Leverich St., Jackson Heights; Henry Gonzalez, 43, 43-41 162nd St., Flushing; and Alex Gomez, 30, of 52 Butler St., Elizabeth, N.J.
Brown said police raided the Coffeenet at 61-29 Woodhaven Blvd. in Rego Park; Ruby Travel at 90-45 148th St. in Jamaica; 35-20 Leverich St. in Jackson Heights; 97-07 63rd Rd. in Rego Park and 21 Montana St. in Hicksville.
All were charged with possession of a controlled substance.
Police seized of 325 kilograms of cocaine and more than $1.7 million in cash along with firearms and nine cars and trucks.
Brown said the group was alleged to have smuggled vast amounts of cocaine from Colombia across the Texas border to a warehouse in Elizabeth, N.J. and to have transported it little by little to Queens for distribution.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.
©2003 Community News Group
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