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Cops seize over $2M in drugs from Corona ring

TimesLedger Newspapers

State police busted up a suspected Corona-based drug trafficking ring they said was responsible for peddling millions of dollars’ worth of Mexican crystal meth and “black tar” heroin throughout the area.

The three men accused of operating the ring allegedly imported the methamphetamine in crystallized, smokeable form from Mexican mega-labs churning the deadly drug out in massive amounts for distribution in the United States, New York City Special Narcotic Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said.

“This seizure is typical of a pattern that we’ve seen developing in our narcotics investigations across the city,” she said. “Methamphetamine is a homegrown product for Mexican cartels. Clearly they are trying to promote the use and addiction to crystal meth here in New York City.”

Citing city Health Department data, Brennan said the number of meth-related emergency room trips has more than doubled between 2004 to 2011.

“Health Department data reflects a dangerous escalation in related hospitalizations,” she said. “This case affirms our commitment with the New York State Police and our other law enforcement partners to curtail the distribution of this extremely dangerous drug.”

According to Brennan, state police were probing Miguel Mercado-Guelen’s suspected stash house on 96th Street April 9 when his two alleged accomplices, Henry Nunez and Diego Estevez, arrived before the three took off in two separate cars for the Bronx.

Investigators stopped Mercado-Guelen and Nunez in their car, and when they stopped Estevez on foot he allegedly had 3 kilos of Mexican “black tar” heroin on him, Brennan said.

When the authorities returned to the Corona house with a search warrant, they found a dresser with a hidden compartment allegedly containing another 1.5 kilos of heroin, 4 kilos of meth, a 9mm handgun and a loaded magazine clip, the special prosecutor said.

All told, the street value of the drugs was worth more than $2 million, Brennan said.

A search of the house also turned up a ledger discussing meth transactions, $2,000 cash and equipment such as masks, grinders, a kilo press and scales used for packaging narcotics, Brennan said.

Mercado-Guelen, an illegal alien who returned to the United States after being deported in 2003, was indicted Monday on conspiracy, weapons and drug charges, Brennan said. Nunez and Estevez were indicted earlier in the month on conspiracy and drug charges.

“The indictments of these three individuals have broken up a drug trafficking operation that poured literally pounds of deadly, illicit drugs into the streets of Queens and beyond,” New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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