Stunned Residents Watch As Feds Take Down Multimillion-Dollar Operations

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new and alarming threat has struck suburban neighborhoods in the Tri-State Area.

As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported Wednesday evening, you would have no way of knowing, but drug dealers have moved in and are running multimillion-dollar heroin operations in some of the area’s upscale neighborhoods. You, yourself, could be living right next to the new heroin house.

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“You never know what might be next door to you,” New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said.

“People should be very worried,” added Brian Crowell of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Dangerous drug dealers have moved from the city to the suburbs, hiding in plain sight to camouflage their lucrative operations. They are hiding out on quiet suburban streets, in neighborhoods throughout the Tri-State Area.

“We were very, very shocked,” one neighbor said. “Very, very shocked.”

“They’re using it as cover — cover from those who would rob them, and cover from those who would arrest them and take down the mills,” Brennan said.

And these are not small-time enterprises, but massive mega-production mills that run 24-7 to meet the escalating demand for heroin on the streets.

“We’ve marked it as our primary drug threat,” Crowell said. “Heroin traffickers are number one on our take-down list.”

And law enforcement says it is making inroads, though neighbors say they can’t believe it.

“It’s a little surprising, because this area is really nice,” said one resident of Cliffside Park, N.J.

In Cliffside Park, what looks like just an average house from the outside was in fact a fully operational heroin mill. Officers seized a stash worth about $6 million.

One woman, who was afraid to be identified, lives across the street. She said she had no idea what was going on.

“I was extremely upset — very alarming,” she said. “I have a 5-year-old son, and it’s just not something you hear of in a quiet residential area like this.”

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And just a few miles away in Fort Lee, N.J., another bust led to 10 arrests.

“It’s just unimaginable,” said resident Omola Omoteso. “Unimaginable.”

In Riverdale in the northwest Bronx, not far from rows of mansions, a series of raids netted $30 million worth of the drug. In an exclusive video obtained by CBS 2, hundreds of dollars’ worth of packets filled with heroin can be seen in one home, ready to hit the streets.

Heroin mills have even been found in the sleepy Hudson River town of Cornwall, in Rockland County.

“You wouldn’t have expected it to be here,” resident Susan Hoff said.

Hoff said she was stunned when police shut down a mill just two houses away.

“I was extremely shocked and, of course, scared,” Hoff said. “I thought if they hadn’t found out, what could have happened? I have a son – because what comes next, guns?”

Violence is always a real possibility, according to police.

“If somebody is coming in to rob a mill, they’ll be coming in armed — and armed to the teeth — and they will shoot up anything in their way because there are millions of dollars of heroin there,” Brennan said.

Brennan said until the demand for heroin drops, the number of mills will grow. But she is putting dealers on notice.

“We’ve had great success, and we will continue to have great success because we’re relentless,” Brennan said. “We’re just not going to stop.”

Those who control the mills are also a main target, and subject to aggressive prosecution.

Authorities said the demand for heroin is high because it is cheap and potent.

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