A long and lengthy investigation led to police seizing over $1 million worth of heroin and the arrest of six people in the Bronx earlier this week. The scheme attempted to distribute heroin and fentanyl branded with references to the coronavirus and basketball star Kobe Bryant.
“Authorities say the alleged drug trafficking operation was attempting to profit off the COVID-19 pandemic by stamping packaging the drugs were sold in with a biohazard symbol and the word “coronavirus.” Several other stamps that were used included one that read “Black Mamba 24,” a reference to Bryant, who died in a January helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven others. “Black Mamba” was Bryant’s nickname, and “24” his jersey number.
“Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we arrested six drug traffickers who aptly branded their product ‘coronavirus’,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan said in a press release. “Traffickers market their drugs like businesses, branding their product with stamps to attract users, like ’24 Black Mamba’; or use an ‘Antrax’ stamp to designate origins and reference enforcer gangs of the Sinaloa Cartel.”
Law enforcement says they found around 120,000 small envelopes containing suspected heroin and fentanyl worth over $1 million, along with $25,000 in cash and drug packaging materials.
The stamps that were labeled “Coronavirus” and “24 Black Mamba” are said to have contributed to several fatal overdose incidents in New Jersey.
“It was a great joint investigation with a very successful outcome and a message to traffickers that enforcement continues,” a DEA spokeswoman told Newsweek.
“Taking a million dollars’ worth of deadly drugs off the street is critical at this time, when isolation and fear make substance users ever more vulnerable,” she added.