Heroin worth millions seized in Mayfair drug raids

Police seized more than 3 kilograms of bulk heroin valued at more than $1 million and a loaded handgun from a house on the 7500 block of Battersby St. on July 12.

Local, state and federal narcotics investigators have seized almost $8 million in heroin and arrested 18 people during raids on five Mayfair homes since last October, law enforcement sources say.

Four of the raids have occurred within blocks of the Abraham Lincoln High School and Austin Meehan Middle School campus, including the Aug. 17 seizure of more than $1 million worth of the illicit drug and $7,700 in cash from a house on the 3100 block of Teesdale St.

The largest single raid occurred last Oct. 22 when authorities reported that they found more than 12 kilograms valued at about $4 million inside a house on the 7500 block of Battersby St. As a result of that raid, a federal grand jury in December indicted two men with alleged ties to a Dominican drug trafficking organization that had additional operations in East Kensington and other parts of the Northeast.

Authorities have not documented open-air street-corner sales in the area, but investigators say that each of the affected homes were being used for heroin processing and packaging.

“The organization used the premises … as a stash house for concealing and storing kilogram quantities of heroin, as a location to cut, prepare and package heroin for street sale in Philadelphia, as well as a place to store proceeds from drug sales and to maintain records from those sales,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated after the December indictment.

Since then, investigators have continued their focus on Mayfair with several additional million-dollar drug busts.

Members of the Philadelphia Police Narcotics Field Unit and FBI agents carried out the latest one on Aug. 17. While conducting surveillance on the 7100 block of Large St. in Castor Gardens, they followed suspect Fransisco Almonte to the 3100 block of Teesdale St. After Almonte left a house on the block, investigators stopped his car and noticed a hidden compartment under his passenger seat containing numerous bundles of heroin, according to a police report.

Investigators obtained search warrants for the car, the Teesdale street house and other locations linked to the suspect. Inside the car, they allegedly found 12,700 packets of suspected heroin labeled “Power,” as well as 163 grams of bulk heroin. When investigators entered the house, there were nine men in the basement allegedly handling about 47,000 packets of heroin and 1.2 kilograms of bulk heroin. The search also turned up packaging materials, various label stamps — including “Power,” “100%” and “Super” — scales and almost $7,700 in cash.

In all, police recovered about 3.1 kilograms of heroin that they said has a street value of $1.03 million. All 10 defendants were charged with drug possession, possession with intent to deliver, possessing paraphernalia and conspiracy.

Previously, police and FBI agents raided homes on the 7500 block of Battersby St. on July 12 and the 3200 block of Ryan Ave. on July 13. In those two instances, investigators arrested four people and seized about 8.5 kilograms of heroin valued at about $2.8 million.

In June, then-Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced that her agents arrested two Northeast men and seized about 250 grams of heroin valued at $85,000 when they raided a house on the 3000 block of Brighton St., just south of Mayfair Elementary School.

The FBI and police credited local residents with assisting investigators in their largest raid, on Oct. 22, 2015. The anonymous tipsters provided details about suspicious activity around the property on the 7500 block of Battersby, including dates, times, vehicle descriptions and even photographs.

In addition to more than $4 million in heroin found in hidden dresser compartments, authorities seized $79,000 cash on a dining room table and a stolen 9-millimeter pistol inside a couch.

Jose Antonio Rosario Reyes, 55, and Luis Manuel Gomez Rodriguez, 37, were both arrested on site. Both are residents of the Dominican Republic. Authorities said Reyes was already wanted as a convicted felon who had re-entered the United States illegally. ••

Busted: This graphic illustrates the dates and dollar values of drugs seized during recent heroin raids in Mayfair. GRAPHIC: MARIA YOUNG