Damian Williams, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Frank A. Tarentino III, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), Ricky J. Patel, the Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Department of Homeland Security (“HSI”), and Keechant Sewell, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced that BENITO BELLO, a/k/a “Zuriel Ayala Rodriguez” was charged in a criminal complaint today with possession of fentanyl and cocaine with the intent to distribute them. BELLO was arrested yesterday on an outstanding warrant in Massachusetts and has been charged by complaint in the Southern District of New York. BELLO will be presented before United States Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger in Manhattan federal court at a later date.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, the defendant was trafficking huge quantities of fentanyl from his home in the Bronx—a home he shared with his minor children and a home that was next door to a day care center serving infants as young as six weeks old. Thanks to our law enforcement partners, approximately 14 kilograms of this deadly drug that is fueling the opioid epidemic in our city will never flood the streets.”
DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Frank Tarentino said: “Seventy five percent of all overdoses and poisonings involve an opioid like heroin and fentanyl. This seizure and arrest have saved lives and shut down a multi-million dollar drug mill located next door to a children’s day care. DEA works with our law enforcement partners every day to make this city and country safer and healthier. I applaud the collaboration and hard work by our law enforcement partners.”
HSI Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Ricky J. Patel said: “The dangers of fentanyl are well known. As drug traffickers become more brazen, displaying complete disregard for human life, the plague of addiction continues to tear apart families and communities not only in New York, but throughout the country. Yesterday’s enforcement action took approximately fourteen kilograms of this deadly narcotic not only off the street, but removed it from a residence mere steps from a day care center for young children. HSI, along with our law enforcement partners, will never cease in supporting our local communities in the fight against drug traffickers.”
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said: “These charges further affirm the NYPD’s unwavering commitment to ridding our city of illegal drugs. And this investigation – involving several law enforcement agencies across multiple states – is a perfect example of how focused collaboration makes us all safer. The narcotics trade wreaks havoc in our communities, and our job is to ensure that anyone who peddles this poison be brought to justice swiftly and successfully. To that end, I thank and commend the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, the DEA’s New York Field Office, Homeland Security Investigations New York, and all of our law-enforcement partners for their outstanding work on this case.”
As alleged in the Complaint filed today in Manhattan federal court:
On or about January 31, 2013, the Trial Court of Massachusetts, Superior Court, issued a warrant for the arrest of BELLO, a/k/a “Zuriel Ayala Rodriguez,” for failure to appear on charges of drug trafficking, assault and battery, possession of a dangerous weapon, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
On or about August 10, 2022, law enforcement agents sought to arrest BELLO on the Massachusetts warrant, after law enforcement surveillance located BELLO at a particular residence in the Bronx. The Bronx residence is located next to a day care center for children as young as six weeks old.
Law enforcement agents later searched the Bronx residence and recovered approximately 14 kilograms of fentanyl, one kilogram of cocaine, a kilogram press, a pill press, a scale, and other drug paraphernalia. Additionally, law enforcement agents recovered suspected fentanyl from a toilet in the Bronx residence, which was running as if it had been flushed.
BELLO, 44, of Lawrence, Massachusetts, is charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of DEA, HSI, and the NYPD. Mr. Williams also praised the United States Marshals for the Southern District of New York and the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Marguerite B. Colson is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.