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A large heroin manufacturing mill quietly operating out of an apartment building on an equally quiet, dead-end street in the Bronx has been put out of business, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
After an informant tipped off investigators on a city, state and federal drug task that Rolando Valentin was allegedly laundering money, officers set up surveillance on Monday outside his home at 3166 Fenton Ave., the officials said.
Investigators assigned to the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force's Strike Force followed Valentin for seven hours as he traveled into Bushwick then to several places in Newark, allegedly making drug deals, the officials said.
When he returned to his Williamsbridge home Monday afternoon, detectives watched as he ran from his Range Rover to the house, then threw a black duffel bag into the home as someone opened the door, then slammed it shut.
After detectives said a man on the second floor allowed them to search the house, investigators found a ladder descending through a hole to the first floor apartment where they found a black bag stuffed with bundled money.
A search of the basement resulted in "the most significant heroin retail operation seizure by us in the past 10 years," said John Gilbride, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's New York office.
The heroin was in 150,000 individually wrapped wax envelopes that were pressed into bricks, police said.
The envelopes were stamped with such brand names as "Fully Loaded," "HIV" and "Black Flag." Federal prosecutors pegged the street value of the heroin at $1.5 million. The DEA and New York Police Department estimated the seizure's worth at about $6 million.
Thirteen people in the house were arrested on drug charges, and all, including Valentin, were awaiting arraignment Tuesday night. Most of them, police said, were being paid $1,000 a week to package the heroin. One man told police he was only a cook, getting $800 a week, but he was hoping for a promotion to a packager.
Police recovered about $250,000 in cash, six handguns, equipment used to detect listening devices, nearly a million empty wax envelopes, 150 coffee grinders to churn heroin into powder, two safes and two money counters.
The heroin is believed to have come from drug organizations in Colombia, officials said.
-------------------- There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes, Jesus Christ died for nothin' I suppose. Little pitchers have big ears, Don't stop to count the years, Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.