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June 13, 2024

Cops seize 19,000 packets of fentanyl, dozens of firearms during drug ring bust in Kensington

Authorities found gun switches, ghost guns and assault rifles. At least 14 properties, alleged to be stash houses, were searched last week.

Investigations Drug Ring
Kensington drug ring Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Police seized 57 guns, two kilograms of cocaine and 19,000 packets of fentanyl in a drug bust, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Federal and local officials have charged 12 people after busting a drug and firearms trafficking operation in Kensington.

The joint operation and investigation from the U.S. Attorney's Office, ATF, Philadelphia Police and other agencies last week seized 57 guns, including assault rifles, stolen firearms, gun switches and homemade ghost guns, at least two kilograms of cocaine and 19,000 packets of fentanyl, which equates to over 50,000 potentially fatal doses.

The 84 charges that the 12 people face include manufacturing, distributing, dispensing or possessing controlled substances, trafficking in firearms and conspiracy to commit offenses.

According to Jacqueline Romero, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 10 of those people were arrested in connection to the drug ring, while Ángel Vélez, 33, is in custody while awaiting transfer from another state and Ahmed Pérez, 28, remains a fugitive.

Among those arrested and charged is Wilfredo Avila, 30, who officials suspected of leading the criminal organization out of Fairhill and the surrounding neighborhoods of Philadelphia.

Romero said Avila and the rest of the organization sold guns and drugs from several locations. Last week, officials searched at least 14 properties through Kensington that may have been utilized by the ring as stash houses. 

The organization had been operating since at least February 2023, and members were regularly armed during their trafficking activities, officials said. The investigation is ongoing, and the ATF is looking to connect firearms sold by the organization to other crimes.

Philadelphia Police is planning to enact an aggressive enforcement phase in Kensington next week, increasing the police force's presence in the neighborhood.