The leader of a major New York City heroin ring "thought he was untouchable" because he never handled the drugs he sold.
But authorities say he learned he was wrong when they charged him with three counts of operating as a major drug trafficker under the state's kingpin statute.
Cruz Aguaviva-Done, 56, of the South Bronx, led a ring that moved as much as 20 pounds of Colombian heroin through the city in the past year, officials said.
He pleaded not guilty at arraignment Wednesday before State Supreme Court Justice Bruce Allen in Manhattan, as did six other defendants in the case, officials said. Two other defendants face arraignment later this month on related drug charges.
While Aguaviva-Done thought he was untouchable, "today he is aware he could not have been more wrong," Brian Crowell, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's New York City office, said in a statement.
Wiretaps and surveillance cameras helped investigators track Aguaviva-Done as he "directed members of his organization to conduct money transfers, pick up heroin shipments and resell loads of drugs to distributors," the DEA said in its statement.
Aguaviva-Done's attorney, Heriberto Antonio Cabrera, of Brooklyn, declined to comment Thursday.
The state's kingpin statute targets drug dealers who supervise four or more people and collect at least $75,000 from drug sales in a six-month period.