OAN’s Brooke Mallory
6:06 PM – Monday, October 23, 2023
Following the purported seizure of over 100 pounds of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and other illegal narcotics from a pizzeria located in the Bronx borough of New York City, police officials accused three men of operating a drug ring out of the establishment.
The plethora of hard drugs was estimated to be worth $4 million, police said.
Authorities shared a statement on Monday, saying that the eatery, Mexzzarella Pizzeria, which is located across the street from a public elementary school, was being used as a front by accused drug traffickers Gaudencio Rosendo Perez, Zulema Cardenas Espinoza, and Alexander Samboy.
“This drug trafficking organization was cooking up more than pizza in the Bronx,” said Frank Tarentino, the special agent in charge of the DEA’s New York division.
Upon searching the pizza spot on October 19th, local, state, and federal law enforcement officials claimed to have discovered 42 kilograms of suspected cocaine, a kilogram of heroin and fentanyl, 1,000 glassine envelopes containing more fentanyl and some Oxycodone, more large rocks of cocaine, and approximately 100 vials containing crack cocaine.
On the day of the major raid, authorities had been monitoring the trio and had observed them entering and exiting the Soundview Avenue pizzeria with backpacks and bags, according to officials.
After Samboy drove off in a silver Subaru Impreza with Connecticut registration plates, police stopped him on Metcalf Avenue. Five kilograms of cocaine branded “R2” and wrapped in black tape were then discovered by investigators during the traffic check, according to the statement.
At the restaurant, Perez and Espinoza were taken into custody by agents and task force officers. Additionally, authorities reportedly discovered a kilo press and almost $40,000 in the basement.
Authorities also stated that the men had kept the crack vials close to the pizza counter for “convenient sales.”
“The large stash of cocaine found in the basement of Mexzzarella Pizza is very significant because it had the potential to supply drug networks throughout the Northeast,” Tarentino said. “Cocaine is being laced with fentanyl, which is contributing to poisonings and unnecessary deaths in New York and across the country.”
According to the statement, Perez, Espinoza, and Samboy are now accused of acting as major drug traffickers and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
On Friday, they were arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court. The judge imposed $150,000 bail for two of the men, while Perez was remanded.
“This highly profitable Bronx-based narcotics operation appeared to operate as a wholesaler and distributor of cocaine and fentanyl-laced products and was advertised as an ‘inexpensive Mexican pizza spot,’” said NYC Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan. “Our office will continue to work with our federal, state and local enforcement partners to stem the distribution of lethal drugs that claimed the lives of a record-high number of people in our city last year.”
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