Federal agents break up alleged Phila. heroin ring

Posted: October 12, 2012

Federal agents have dismantled what they said was a high-volume heroin ring that routinely funneled pounds of the drug from New York to sell on Philadelphia streets.

By Thursday, 15 of the alleged ring members were in custody, according to U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger and Vito Guarino, acting special agent-in-charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Agents were hunting for five more suspects, including the alleged ringleader, Francisco Javier Acosta-Cruz, 49, a Dominican living in Philadelphia.

All but one were named in a 13-count indictment handed up in September that remained sealed until the arrests this week. Though it described Acosta-Cruz as the boss, it also said he regularly traveled to his homeland and handed the reins of his operation to Jose Alberto Nunez of Pennsauken.

Eighteen others, some with nicknames like "Cub," "Macho," and "crazy guy from the park," were described as the bundlers and resellers who processed and packaged the heroin under brand names like "YouTube" and "Gucci."

According to the indictment, the ring used stash houses on East Sterner, Diamond, and Bingham Streets, near the city's Kensington and Fairhill neighborhoods, and distributed on streets from there to the Delaware riverfront.

Business was so brisk that Nunez was allegedly pocketing $40,000 a month and complained in June to a colleague that his guys "were exhausted" and needed more help because the orders were backed up.

"No time for rest," he said, according to the indictment.

The indictment includes conspiracy, distribution, and weapons charges, plus one count of using a juvenile in a drug operation. It was unclear Thursday whether the defendants yet had lawyers. Most face bail hearings next week, officials said.

Contact John P. Martin at 215-854-4774, jmartin@phillynews.com, or follow @JPMartinInky on Twitter.

comments powered by Disqus