Narcotics cops seized 28 pounds of dope from a theater district heroin mill yesterday -- a stash worth a Wicked $6.5 million.
The drugs were found at 417 West 43rd Street, inside a Next To Normal-seeming ground floor duplex just two blocks from Times Square, officials said. The residential building sits across the street from Actors Studio and a block north of Theatre Row. The bust was part of a long-term investigation by the DEA, the NYPD, State Police and the city Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor. Four alleged American Idiots are in custody in connection with the bust, said the city's Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Bridget Brennan, who noted the unexpected location.
"If our investigators were surprised, you can only imagine the shock of neighbors, commuters and theater-goers," Brennan said.
The building's residents include elderly folks and parents with young children -- all of them quite upset with their Brief Encounter with alleged drug kingpins.
"I noticed something was funny," said neighbor Graciella Lopez, 55. "A lot of people were parading and knocking on the door. . .As soon as they moved in I saw they put up black sheets (on the windows). You couldn't see anything in their apartment."
Said building super Jose Castro, "They seemed like very nice people."
Cops moved in on the operation yesterday afternoon, after seeing Gregorio Antonio Conce, 47, of The Bronx, leave the building holding a large garbage bag.
In the bag, officials said, was refuse from heroin production, including damaged glassine envelopes and other packaging material.
When cops broke down the door to the $3,000-a-month duplex, surprised mill workers tried to flee, leaving behind at least 250,000 glassines of dope wrapped in scraps of porn magazine paper. Each glassine retails for at least $10 on the street, said Much of the rest of the heroin was in the kitchen, sitting loose in piles on top of a couple of dinner tables.
"Get on the floor, scumbag! I'm going to shoot you! Get on the floor or you're going to get shot," one resident, who declined to give his name, said cops shouted while arresting two of the men who tried to run off.
"They had only been in the apartment for two weeks," said one official, asking not to be named. "They had minimal furniture in there -- an air mattress on the floor, and two TVs.
"There were some raw steaks out on the cabinet, and a pot of cooked rigatoni on the stove."
All four members of the alleged $6.5 Million Dollar Quartet are awaiting arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court. They include two alleged druggies who happen to live uptown -- In The Heights.