A massive drug bust in Northeast Philadelphia netted authorities $3.3 million worth of heroin, making it the biggest heroin bust in the region in 20 years, officials announced Wednesday.
A joint task force between the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration led to the sting, which authorities said centered on three locations in the Northeast -- Bergen Street near Loretto Avenue in the Bell's Corner section, Levick Street near Frontenac in Oxford Circle and Stanwood Street near Roosevelt Boulevard in Rhawnhurst.
Federal and local investigators began looking into the drug ring for dealing and drug-money laundering in March 2015 and spent "countless surveillance hours" monitoring the property on Bergen Street, according to the D.A.'s office. The house, the D.A.'s office said, was being used as a safe house and stash house by the ring to prepare and store drugs and money.
On April 28, officers stopped two suspects outside the house, one of whom had a kilogram of heroin on him, officials said. Investigators then executed a warrant at the house, where they found nine more kilograms of the drug, according to the D.A.'s office. A portion of it was cut into 18 racks, each of which contained 50 bundles of heroin -- or 11,700 individual packets, displaying various stamps, authorities said. The estimated street value of the drugs is $3.3 million.
Investigators also found paraphernalia including a heat sealer, grinders, plastic bags, stamps and digital scales.
Three men have been charged in connection with the heroin ring, authorities said: Martin Paulino Gomez, 40, Domingo Cedno Pimentel, 26, and Ricardo Ortiz-Rolon, A.K.A. Acquiles Perez-Gomera, 36. All three are charged with intentional possession of controlled substances, manufacturing and delivering and possession with intent to deliver drugs, conspiracy and racketeering.
“Heroin is the primary drug threat to our area and as such, a significant enforcement priority of the DEA Philadelphia Division,” Special Agent in Charge Gary Tuggle said. “Working with the District Attorney’s Office, officers and agents dismantled a significant drug trafficking organization and seized a substantial amount of heroin, denying its distribution to our streets. The DEA will be unrelenting in our pursuit of those individuals pushing heroin into our communities.”