North Carolina man cuffed for selling 48 pounds of meth in Queens and Manhattan

A North Carolina man was arrested in New York City for allegedly selling over 48 pounds of crystal methamphetamine in Manhattan and Queens during an undercover investigation, prosecutors announced Friday.

Winston-Salem resident Juvenal Andrade-Mora, 37, was arrested on May 11 in Manhattan. He was charged with one count of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor.

“Methamphetamine, a synthetic drug, is a potentially lethal stimulant, which is driving up overdose deaths across the country, according to federal health officials. The increased volume of methamphetamine coming into our city is astonishing, most of it produced in Mexico. Once here, it is mixed with other dangerous drugs and pressed into counterfeit pills. We work tirelessly with law enforcement partners to intercept it at the highest levels, and will work with the state legislature to make sure we have every tool at our disposal to protect New Yorkers from this deadly drug,” said Special Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan.

According to court documents, in the days leading up to his arrest Andrade-Mora allegedly traveled from North Carolina to New York City and met with an undercover officer at 12:40 p.m. on May 9 at 72-12 Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights, Queens. At this time, Andrade-Mora allegedly provided the undercover officer with one kilogram of crystal meth wrapped inside a green sweatshirt.

Andrade-Mora allegedly arranged another meeting with the undercover officer and the sale of an additional 19 kilograms of crystal meth for a wholesale price of $11,000 per kilogram, or a combined $220,000. Agents and officers allegedly used electronic surveillance to track Andrade-Mora as he returned to North Carolina by bus and then to Atlanta, Georgia.

On May 11, Andrade-Mora returned to New York and allegedly met with the undercover officer at West 155th Street in Manhattan at 12:35 p.m. He allegedly directed the undercover officer to a black suitcase in front of 575 West 155th Street and indicated that the drugs were inside the suitcase. The bag was retrieved by the undercover officer, and Andrade-Mora was arrested.

Photo Credit: New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (NYDETF)
Photo Credit: New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (NYDETF)

The suitcase allegedly contained two plastic bags each with several plastic bags inside containing a white, crystal-like substance, weighing 21 kilograms each. Field-testing allegedly indicated the substance is crystal methamphetamine, though laboratory test results are pending. Investigators believe the crystal meth, which has a street value estimated at over $2 million, originated in Mexico.

“Synthetic drugs are the most powerful and dangerous drugs found on the streets today,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank A. Tarentino III.  “Fentanyl and methamphetamine are man-made synthetic drugs that have been unleashed on the streets causing overdoses and deaths nationwide.   This year DEA New York has seized over 100% more methamphetamine than in 2020 which signifies a concerning shift in the New York drug trade toward methamphetamine.”     

Andrade-Mora was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court and released without bail being set. Methamphetamine is categorized as a controlled substance, but not a narcotic drug. Regardless of the amount of methamphetamine sold or possessed, and regardless of Andrade-Mora’s lack of connections to New York State, under current law judges may not set bail on cases involving only methamphetamine.