$3.3 million worth of heroin seized in Burholme

WILLIAM KENNY / TIMES PHOTO

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Dangerous Drug Offenders Unit in partnership with Philadelphia Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration arrested three people in connection with the trafficking of $3.3 million worth of heroin in the Northeast’s Burholme section on Jan. 24.

Agents recovered 13 kilograms of the drug mostly from inside a home on the 7100 block of Bingham St. They continue to investigate the origin of the drugs but believe at least three kilos were destined for sale in the New York City area.

District Attorney Seth Williams and Assistant DA Melissa Francis, who heads the Dangerous Drug Offenders Unit, announced the arrests during a Feb. 2 news conference.

The bust resulted from ongoing surveillance of the home, where they saw Gheral Alvarez-Mercedes, 30, enter and exit. Officers followed him in a car to the area of Algon and Magee avenues where they watched him meet an unknown man and place a small white box in his car. The agents stopped Alvarez-Mercedes’ car a short distance away and found three kilograms in the white box. They later identified the other suspect as Johel Pascal-Mateo, 27, a Dominican who had entered the United States illegally, according to Williams.

While agents were conducting the car stop, others stayed at the house and watched Zamary L. Roldan, 27, exit the property with an infant, diaper bag, hand bag and container. She allowed investigators to search her car, which contained four packets of heroin and $5,000 cash. The container she had carried to the car contained an additional eight kilograms of heroin.

Inside the home, agents found another half-kilo of heroin along with scales, packaging materials, ledger books, passports for Alvarez-Mercedes and Roldan and 13 counterfeit $100 bills.

The total quantity of drugs amounted to one the largest heroin busts in the city’s history and the single largest in the history of the Dangerous Drug Offenders Unit, Francis said. In the last two years partnering with the DEA, the unit has seized 40 kilos of heroin, 14 kilos of fentanyl and 80 pounds of crystal meth from traffickers. The Dangerous Drug Offenders Unit is a partnership between the DA’s office and Philadelphia police. ••