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New York City is a hub for drug cartels and fentanyl distribution, DEA New York Division special agent in charge says

Why a DEA agent says New York City is a hub for drug cartels
Why a DEA agent says New York City is a hub for drug cartels 02:20

NEW YORK -- New York City is a hub for drug cartels, according to Frank Tarentino, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's New York division. 

Tarentino spoke with CBS New York's Ali Bauman on Thursday after DEA investigators said they found more than 40 lbs. of fentanyl in a drug bust in the Bronx, just a block from the day care where a baby died after being exposed to fentanyl

Federal investigators claimed the alleged drug mill was operating inside an apartment at Kingsbridge Road and Heath Avenue, where they said they found Juan Gabriel Herrera Vargas, 42, who they charged with operating as a major trafficker. 

The DEA seized more than 40 lbs. of fentanyl, much of which they said Herrara Vargas had been carrying in a suitcase on the 4 train. 

DEA agent says New York City is a hub for drug cartels 10:55

"The cartels are most definitely here in New York," said Tarentino. "This is a destination city, and it's here because the I-95 corridor is a great geographical location for these distribution networks to move that powder into mills ... for further distribution throughout the northeast."

The drug bust was less than a mile from Divino Nino Day Care, where earlier this month 1-year-old Nicolas Dominici died after he was exposed to fentanyl that investigators determined was hidden under the floorboards.

The DEA believes two organizations were operating independently in these cases. 

"Fentanyl is everywhere," said Tarentino. "And so every New Yorker should be outraged, not just with the overdoses and poisonings ... but also at the reckless abandon in which these traffickers are moving this poison throughout New York City and stashing it in places that we come in contact with." 

Bauman asked, "If people are taking this on the subway, should New Yorkers be carrying around Narcan just everyday?"

"They should make sure that they are aware of what they're touching and then obviously clean their hands as often as possible," said Tarentino. "This is a public safety, public health and national security risk." 

The DEA estimates the amount seized in this latest bust equates to about 1 million lethal doses of fentanyl and is worth about $1.5 million. 

Click here to watch the full interview with Tarentino

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