10 kilos of heroin, 14,000 fake Oxy pills, seized after three-month multiagency investigation
Authorities are calling a drug bust from earlier this month the largest drug seizure in Delaware history.
Following a three-month-long investigation that included local, state, county, and federal officials, US District Attorney for Delaware David Weiss announced on Thursday, Aug. 29, the arrest of Ricardo Perez-Guillen, 40, and Julian Rivera-Villa, 56, both of Gloucester City, NJ, on multiple drug trafficking charges.
According to an affidavit, a confidential informant working with the Drug Enforcement Agency purchased hundreds of what was believed to be Oxycodone pills from Perez-Guillen in July.
The purchases were made on two separate occasions in the parking lot of a New Castle area Royal Farms.
Those pills eventually turned out to be fake Oxycodone pills laced with Fentanyl.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent, making the possibility of overdose highly more likely.
DEA agents arrested Perez-Guillen without incident on Aug. 21, following a transaction where he delivered 1 kg. of heroin and 600 more fake Oxycodone pills.
Rivera-Villa was subsequently arrested at his Gloucester City trailer, where authorities found an additional 7 kilograms. of heroin, 3 kilograms. of cocaine, and 1.5 kilograms. of suspected fake Oxycodone pills.
A Ford Fusion registered to Perez-Guillen, parked a mile from the residence, yielded an additional 2 kilos. of heroin, stashed in hidden compartments, Weiss said.
In total, authorities seized 10 kg. of heroin, 3 kg. of cocaine, 14,000 fake pills, and $28,000 in cash, along with a quantity of other pills Weiss said have yet to be identified.
Weiss said the street value of the drugs seized exceeds $1 million, with the raw heroin potentially accounting for 1.4 million doses.
“The potential devastation to be caused by the distribution of [the drugs seized] is incalculable,” Weiss said.
DEA Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Shawn Ellerman called the seizure a “substantial amount” of narcotics.
“This proves to us, as we always said – that there are high-trafficking organizations operating … not around, but in Delaware itself,” Ellerman said.
Ellerman said the DEA estimates that one kilogram of raw heroin amounts to 330,000 individual doses – doses, he added, that did not make it to the streets.
Ellerman noted that the influx of Fentanyl in the nation has accounted for thousands of overdoses and deaths in recent years.
“I want to warn anyone who is battling with addiction, who is purchasing pills in neighborhoods, to realize there is a great possibility that you are getting counterfeit pills – a better possibility that they are laced with Fentanyl,” Ellerman said. “To keep buying these pills could resort in your own death.”
As to whether or not the arrest could lead to further arrests higher up the supply train, Weiss said he could not comment on an active investigation.
“The best thing we can do is what we’re doing now – working together to identify, disrupt, dismantle global trafficking organizations that are operating throughout our county, and more importantly, in the state of Delaware,” Ellerman said.
Middletown Police Chief Robert Kracyla called the operation a cooperative investigation.
“I see how a teamwork effort was able to go ahead and bring this all together,” he said.
Rivera-Villa and Perez-Guillen are identified as Mexican Nationals who are in the country illegally, according to Weiss, with Rivera-Villa having already been deported and identified as an aggravated felon.
Rivera-Villa and Perez-Guillen are charged with distribution of fentanyl and face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.
Rivera-Villa was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents due to his status, the affidavit states.
The investigation was led by Middletown Police Department and DEA Task Force Agent John Stuart, who Weiss said “quarterbacked” the investigation, in conjunction with the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad and HIDTA Group 41.
The group is comprised of members from Middletown Police Department, Newark Police Department, New Castle County Police Department, Delaware Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement, Delaware State Police, Maryland State Police, Wilmington Police Department, Delaware Probation and Parole, Newport Police Department, and the University of Delaware Police Department.