Four arrested in massive DEA bust of 'fentanyl factory'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A major drug bust went down recently at an Upper West Side apartment, where investigators said the drugs they found are worth at least $3 million.

As CBS2's Jessica Layton reported Monday night, the drugs are also extremely potent.

The arrests happened on Friday, but neighbors were just hearing about them three days later. It is hard to believe that the charming, seven-story brick apartment building on the leafy Upper West Side was just recently the site of one of the largest fentanyl busts in New York City history.

"Is that where it was? Oh, so I had no idea," said building tenant Rom Ozeri.

It was especially shocking for those living in the place they have always considered to be safe and secure.

"I'm here 39 years, man, that's crazy," said building tenant Chuck Fertal. "Wow. Wow!"

"I'm horrified!" said building tenant Eileen Harcourt.

It turns out authorities have had their eyes directed for a while on 448 Central Park West – a corner building right across the street from Central Park at 105th Street. On Friday afternoon, police said they busted a major drug ring that was being run, at least in part, out of apartment 6D.

Between what they found in an apartment and in a car they followed from the apartment, police seized 20 pounds of fentanyl and heroin.

Heroin Samples At The State Drug Lab In Ohio
A small bag of straight Fentanyl on display at the State Crime Lab at the Ohio Attorney General's headquarters of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation in London, Ohio. (Photo: Getty)

Photos released by the DEA showed some of the drugs taken, along with paraphernalia such as stamps for packaging and empty glassines.

"Twenty pounds of fentanyl in its purest form is potent enough to kill half the population of New York City," said Drug Enforcement Administration Special-Agent-in-Charge James Hunt, "so it's not good to have in a residential building, obviously. You know, if somebody spills it coming out of the building, it could pose a danger to the public."

Hunt said fentanyl is the deadliest drug ever to come on the market. Even breathing it or ingesting it through pores can be fatal.

And while the location may seem surprising, authorities are seeing an uptick of drug stashes in traditionally good areas.

"So they oftentimes go into nondescript, family-oriented buildings where they don't think that other bad guys are around," Hunt said.

Authorities arrested the tenant in 6D – Jesus Perez Cabral – and three alleged accomplices — David Rodriguez, Johnny Beltrez, and Richard Rodriguez. They said they also found a gun inside the unit.

Clockwise from top left: David Rodriguez, Jesus Perez-Cabal, Richard Rodriguez, and Johnny Beltrez are charged in a fentanyl bust on the Upper West Side. (Photos: Drug Enforcement Administration)

Nobody answered at the problem apartment. Perez-Cabral was likely still in jail as of Monday night.

One neighbor said her apartment has smelled like marijuana since he moved onto her floor in May.

"I would see people coming at 6 a.m. — doesn't make sense!" said Elina Siil.

Siil was grateful to get a good night's sleep, but others were still very much uneasy.

"I'm not far from that apartment, so it's really scaring me,' Harcourt said.

"It's not a comfortable feeling to know they're dealing drugs out of your building," Fertal added.

The DEA said one of the men arrested is an Uber driver. All four suspects were arraigned over the weekend.

Authorities will not say whether more arrests are expected from the drug ring.

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