New York

Suspected Mexico cartel leader charged with smuggling 44 pounds of fentanyl into the city

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A high-level drug trafficker from Mexico was arrested and charged with smuggling more than 44 pounds of fentanyl into the city, authorities announced Tuesday.

Francisco Quiroz-Zamora, 41, a suspected leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel, faces drug-trafficking conspiracy charges.

Late last year, authorities seized some of the fentanyl inside a hotel in the Bronx where the drugs were jammed into a duffel bag and put above a vending machine.

Additionally, more than five pounds of the drugs were seized from a posh apartment on Central Park West being used as a stash house. Officers also found cash and a loaded gun inside the apartment. The drugs were in packages labeled “Uber” and “Wild Card.”

All told, the more than 44 pounds of fentanyl was enough of the highly potent drug to kill 10 million people, authorities said.

Quiroz-Zamora, of San Jose del Cabo in Baja, is nicknamed “Gordo,” which means The Fat One in Spanish.

He was apprehended during a sting operation late last year after he came to New York to collect money from an undercover agent who was pretending to be a drug dealer, according to prosecutors.

Before his arrest, Quiroz-Zamora was expecting a big payday. He was selling the fentanyl for $45,000 to $50,000 per kilo, authorities said.

He was busted when he arrived by train at Penn Station.

The suspect, along with five co-defendants, is scheduled Tuesday for arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Fentanyl busts by the Special Narcotics Prosecutor in the city have gone way up, from 35 pounds in 2016 to 491 pounds last year.

The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan and other law enforcement agencies.

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