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Flushing ‘merchant of death’ gets nearly a decade for dealing pills laced with fentanyl, a handgun to undercover detective: DA

May. 1, 2023 By Bill Parry

A Flushing teenager was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday for selling more than 1,100 fentanyl pills and a loaded handgun to an undercover detective last year, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

Justin Echeverry, 19, of 33rd Avenue, pleaded guilty last month to criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree and assault in the second degree in two separate cases. Queens Supreme Court Justice Toni Cimino sentenced the defendant to eight years in prison and five years post-release supervision.

Echeverry also pleaded guilty Monday to criminal possession of a firearm in a separate case for shooting a man in the leg and was sentenced to one to three years in prison. As part of the plea, Echeverry was ordered to forfeit $18,210.

The NYPD launched an investigation by looking into Echeverry’s activities as an alleged drug supplier, with transactions taking place in Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, and downtown Flushing. An undercover detective posing as a “buyer” initially met with Echeverry on Jan. 11, when the defendant allegedly sold five Percocet pills to the “buyer.”

According to the charges, 11 transactions took place between Jan. 11 and June 6, during which Echeverry allegedly sold 99 Percocet pills and 1,010 Oxycodone pills in cash transactions. During the 11th and final purchase, the Echeverry allegedly sold a loaded .22-caliber Smith and Wesson firearm to the undercover detective.

(Courtesy of Queens DA’s office)

Upon laboratory testing of the seized narcotics, law enforcement officials discovered that each pill contained fentanyl.

According to the charges, on March 14, 2022, Echeverry shot a 26-year-old rival in the leg during an argument on 90th Street in Jackson Heights. During a court-authorized search of Echeverry’s home on August 31, 2022, investigators recovered two 9 mm semi-automatic ghost guns, a .22 caliber revolver, a PA-15 assault weapon, $18,210 in cash, and an array of ammunition.

“For endangering our communities by dealing deadly narcotics and lethal weaponry, this merchant of death is going to prison,” Katz said. “We will hold accountable anyone threatening the safety of our neighborhoods.”

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