Authorities have arrested two New York City-based traffickers involved in a multimillion-dollar drug distribution network, while also making the region's largest drug seizure of 2014, officials said.
The men, Guillermo Esteban Margarin, 33, of the Bronx, and Edualin Tapia, 28, also of the Bronx, are part of a network responsible for supplying heroin, cocaine, and other narcotics throughout the Northeast, authorities said.
After a six-month investigation, federal, state and local authorities arrested the pair Friday while seizing 53 pounds of heroin -- worth about $11 million -- 20 pounds of cocaine, $85,000 cash and several guns, including two assault rifles, officials said. The drugs were found in apartments in the Bronx and Hartford, where the two were arrested.
The drugs were being transported from the city for delivery in Connecticut when authorities swooped in. Officials said the busts and drug seizure dealt a blow to cartels who traffic heroin and cocaine from Mexico to New York City, where it is then shipped to Long Island, New England and other Northeast areas.
Two hundred Molly pills -- similar to Ecstasy -- were also seized, officials said.
"These seizures and arrests demonstrate that New York City is ground zero of heroin distribution networks supplying the Northeast, as well as being the prime market Mexican drug traffickers are using to earn profit from the sale of poison," Drug Enforcement Agency acting Special Agent in Charge James Hunt said.
Margarin and Tapia are charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy.
They are being held in Connecticut while awaiting extradition to New York, authorities said.
"These arrests cut a pipeline moving huge amounts of heroin from New York City to the Northeast," said the city's special narcotics prosecutor, Bridget Brennan.
Authorities believe the drugs were smuggled from Mexico -- the primary source of Long Island heroin. The most notorious and feared Mexican drug organizations -- including the Sinaloa, Gulf and Juarez cartels -- are among the primary traffickers of heroin sold in New York State, authorities said.
Profits are soaring for those who make money off heroin in the Long Island and New York City region -- from cartel leaders to street dealers -- because of increased demand, an abundance of high-quality product flowing into the United States through Mexico, and low wholesale prices, drug enforcement authorities have said.
The heroin that makes it to market in the region is also taking lives at an alarming pace, rivaling the overdose epidemics of the 1970s and early '80s. More than 220 heroin overdose deaths on Long Island occurred in 2012 and 2013 -- the most ever recorded.
Authorities say they are seeing fewer overdoses so far this year due to widespread use of the lifesaving intranasal overdose antidote Narcan.
Hundreds of overdosing patients -- including 563 people in Suffolk County alone -- successfully received the treatment from police and paramedics last year.