More than $10 million in cocaine — likely smuggled into The Bronx in a truck containing rotting papayas, oregano and coconuts — was recovered this week, officials said Friday.
The illicit haul was discovered during a surveillance operation, authorities said.
“This investigation uncovered a commercial warehouse close to the busy Hunts Point markets that served as a front for international narcotics importation. The sheer amount of cocaine seized in one week reflects the magnitude of this drug operation,” said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan in a statement.
“Despite the thousands of trucks that pass through the area each day, our dedicated partners in the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force successfully disrupted a major narcotics supply route.”
On Aug. 28, agents observed two vehicles enter a commercial warehouse at 559 Longfellow Ave. through a metal security gate, officials said.
One truck was transporting a shipping container, while the other vehicle was a tractor-trailer carrying a blue and white refrigerated container.
The next day, the agents spotted a blue Hyundai Sante Fe enter the warehouse at approximately 11:45 a.m. They recognized the vehicle from previous surveillance, although the car was sporting a new license plate.
About an hour later, when the Hyundai exited the warehouse, agents stopped the vehicle, driven by Miguel Marte-Veras, near 1552 Washington Ave.
Agents saw two black suitcases inside the car, which they soon discovered contained 70 kilos of cocaine with a street value of more than $10 million.
Members of the Drug Enforcement Task Force obtained a search warrant for the warehouse. That evening, at about 5:30 p.m., agents entered the facility and spotted the white and blue container they had noticed on the tractor-trailer the previous day.
“A search revealed rotted bags of papayas, pallets of cartons of oregano and coconuts inside,” according to a press release from the city’s Special Narcotic’s Office.
A Port Authority K-9 dog named Balu was brought to the scene and detected narcotics in the container.
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Agents sawed open the top of the trailer and discovered a hidden compartment, which was now empty. Authorities believe the cocaine was transferred from that concealed compartment to the Hyundai.
The 70 kilos were intended for the New York City and the Northeast market, officials said.
Miguel Marte-Veras was arrested on charges of operating as a major trafficker and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance.