Manhattan man cuffed for selling counterfeit drugs in Hell’s Kitchen

A Manhattan man was arrested on Wednesday night for allegedly selling thousands of counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl as well as two guns in Hell’s Kitchen, prosecutors announced Friday.

Aaron Sanchez, 31, was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third and fifth Degrees, criminal sale of a firearm in the third degree, and criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree. He was arraigned before the Manhattan Criminal Court on March 10.

“Sanchez is charged with selling guns and dealing counterfeit fentanyl pills from the comfort of his luxury apartment in Manhattan, as gun violence and drug overdose continue to surge in the city,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said. “I commend all of our law enforcement partners for working together to save lives in our city.”

“This drug and gun dealer operated out of luxury apartments in the heart of mid-town,” said DEA Acting SAC Tim Foley. “Concealing fentanyl pills in a dog toy was just one way Sanchez would deliver deadly doses to customers. The rising threat of drug overdoses and violence is being fueled by profiteers like Sanchez. Law enforcement collaboration is paramount in our efforts to remove drugs and weapons from our streets.”

The investigation was carried out by DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (NYDETF), Group T-12, and the New York City Police Department’s Firearms Investigations Unit. Throughout the course of the investigation, Sanchez allegedly met with an undercover NYPD officer on four occasions and sold fentanyl pills and two guns.

The first three meetings allegedly took place in or behind 635 West 42nd Street, a luxury apartment building where Sanchez previously resided. On Aug. 5, 2021, Sanchez allegedly sold the undercover officer approximately 750 fentanyl pills imprinted to look like oxycodone and a piece of crystal methamphetamine in exchange for $6,000. During the second meeting on Aug. 11, 2021, Sanchez allegedly provided the undercover officer with 250 fentanyl pills that were missing from the first transaction.

On Oct. 28, 2021, Sanchez allegedly brought the undercover officer a penthouse apartment at 635 West 42nd Street and allegedly provided 400 fentanyl pills and a Taurus 9mm firearm with two magazines, which he put inside a dog food bag, in exchange for $3,600.

Photo credit: NYDETF

Finally, on March 9, 2022, the undercover officer allegedly arranged to buy another 1,000 fentanyl pills from Sanchez. Members of NYDETF Group T-12 stopped Sanchez, who was allegedly carrying a dog toy containing the pills out of his building, located at 550 West 54th Street. A subsequent search of his apartment allegedly resulted in the seizure of 10 more fentanyl pills, a scale, a money counter and multiple rounds of ammunition.

Sanchez was arrested at 8:33 p.m. that night. When he was arrested, Sanchez allegedly dropped the dog toy near a parked car, and the officer who retrieved it allegedly found 1,000 fentanyl pills that were imprinted to look like oxycodone inside the toy dog.

Photo credit: NYDETF

“Abuse of opioids and the deadly additive fentanyl has cut a wide swath across our nation, affecting people from all walks of life, in every community,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said. “To combat this scourge, the NYPD and its partners on the DEA’s Drug Enforcement Task Force are relentless in our efforts to shut down illegal drug supplies, to identify and arrest dealers and, ultimately, to save New Yorkers’ lives. We will continue working to rid our city of illegal drugs and guns, and bring to justice anyone who seeks to profit from their proliferation.”

“This case serves as an example of the tireless efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies to arrest those selling dangerous drugs and firearms on New York City’s streets,” State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said. “We have no tolerance for this activity and we will continue our partnership to target those seeking illegal profits while putting the safety of our communities at risk.”

Photo credit: NYDETF