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By Alexander MacInnes
Passaic Herald News

TOTOWA - The Passaic County Prosecutor's Office, along with federal drug agents, cracked a sophisticated drug ring in which members used secret hiding compartments to hold up to 2.5 kilograms of heroin, guns and $45,000 in cash, authorities said Monday.
County investigators and agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency raided two Newark apartments after months of surveillance over the weekend and seized up to $500,000 worth of heroin packages that authorities believed was to be delivered throughout Passaic County and North Jersey.
"This was ready for the streets," Passaic County Prosecutor James Avigliano said at a Monday news conference.
Business was so good, according to police, that the alleged conspirators bought up to $20,000 worth of stereo equipment and could even afford a specialized aquarium with a complex locking mechanism on a fake bottom where allegedly they stored money and guns. One of the men converted a bedroom in his Newark apartment into a huge walk-in closet to hold his expensive wardrobe.
"These guys were high-rollers," said Capt. Robert Prause of the Prosecutor's Office Narcotics Task Force and Gang Suppression Unit.
One member of the crew appeared to have an affinity for Tony Montana, the fictional Miami drug kingpin played by Al Pacino in Brian De Palma's 1983 movie "Scarface." Police said they found a Montana blanket and doll in one of the apartments.
Karl Carrion, 32, of Newark and Daniel Portes, 31, of New York were arrested for possession of narcotics with intent to distribute. Police allegedly found a .41 caliber pistol with a mounted scope and a 9mm Smith & Wesson in Carrion's apartment, so he also will face weapons possession charges as well, Prause said.
Police investigators are searching for a third man, Ricardo Argueyes of Newark, in connection with the drug ring.
Carrion and Argueyes both have ties to Paterson and the Latin Kings street gang in New Jersey, investigators said.
The investigation took months to develop and started with surveillance of Carrion, who has a record for drug offenses in Passaic County, according to Prause and state Department of Corrections records.
"The investigation started in Passaic County," Prause said. "We did have information that [Carrion] was still dealing at that point, we started looking at him to look for patterns, and lo and behold, he was still dealing."
Argueyes was released from state prison in December 2006 after serving a year for a drug conviction in Hudson County.
Although Carrion and Argueyes were described as having connections to the Latin Kings, Prause said he could not assume the drugs were to be delivered to the gang.
After months of surveillance, detectives raided two apartments in Newark on Saturday night. They arrested Portes after he parked his 1999 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, which had a secret compartment that held most of the heroin, in the driveway of Carrion's North 8th Street apartment. Police grabbed Portes and Carrion there.
Later, police arrived at the apartment of Argueyes on Ridge Street, where they found a 1999 Cadillac DeVille, also with a secret compartment with prepackaged dime bags.
Portes, who is accused of transporting the heroin from New York City, is being held in the Passaic County Jail in Paterson on $500,000 bail. Carrion, who was already out on $200,000 bail for a previous drug charge, now has a $750,000 bail and is in the county jail as well, Prause said.

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