NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Brooklyn District Attorney announced multiple arrests Wednesday in a narcotics distribution ring that sold a drug never before seen on the streets of New York.

As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, Operation Hardball ended with 37 defendants arrested for allegedly peddling heroin, cocaine, and a substance city narcotics detectives had never seen before called furanyl fentanyl.

“And according to some estimates, the drug has caused hundreds of deaths in the United States in the last year,” said Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said the synthetic opioid – also called White China – is so new that it is not yet even considered a controlled substance in New York.

Getting the drugs off the streets is a top job for the NYPD, said Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.

“An excess of 1,200 overdosed last year,” Boyce said. “We only had 355 murders last year, so you can do the numbers. This is the leading crisis in the city.”

Most of the drugs were obtained from a supplier in Phoenix, Arizona and sold in the city and in some upstate New York counties between June 2016 and March 2017, authorities said.

The suspects were charged in a 357-count indictment and were arraigned this week and last week in Brooklyn.

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