Federal and local authorities have announced that a multi-million dollar plan to smuggle heroin into New York City—via drug-stuffed couches—was thwarted. The mastermind, Serigo Zuilanny Gordillo Joyo (aka "Andres"), was extradited and he "faces kingpin charges for smuggling millions dollars of heroin bound for New York via the Port of Miami." (Yes, there's an actual kingpin statute.) Andres is being arraigned today.

The Office of New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor described the scheme in a press release:

ANDRES and [fellow defendant LUIS FERNANDO GALLEANO GASCA, who pleaded not guilty today] allegedly orchestrated this shipment with the assistance of two other individuals: GEOMAR RICHARD GALLEANO GASCA, (aka “RICHARD”) in Colombia and JAIRO PATINO (aka “JAIRO”) in New York. Both were arrested earlier this year and are charged in the indictment.

During the investigation, agents learned that in January 2012 ANDRES, FERNANDO and RICHARD were planning to smuggle heroin from Colombia to Miami onboard a freight ship, the “Seaboard Pride." The fourth defendant, JAIRO, was supposed to travel from New York City to Miami to pick up the heroin and then bring the shipment back to New York City for distribution.

Instead, the shipment of heroin was seized on January 10, 1012. Agents stopped the “Seaboard Pride” in the Port of Miami and found a total of 34 packages of heroin concealed inside four couches. These couches were packed into a shipping container with another 25 couches that did not contain narcotics.

JAIRO was arrested in New York on January 12, 2012 as he prepared to travel to Miami to meet the shipment. He had planned to pick up the heroin in Miami and bring it to New York City for distribution.  

Thinking that Jairo just bailed (not realizing he was arrested and that the cargo was seized), Andres and Fernando continued to plan ways to claim the drugs. After wire-taps and a long investigation, the traffickers were apprehended.

NYC Special Narcotics prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said, "The conduct charged in this indictment is exactly the sort of crime that the New York Kingpin statute was designed to address.  High-level foreign traffickers shipped enough heroin to flood the streets of the New York metropolitan area, looking for millions of dollars to fund other criminal operations in return. Fortunately, agents managed to seize the heroin while still concealed in furniture in the Port of Miami."

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, days away from the end of his 12 year tenure, took the opportunity to add a terrible pun: "No matter how you couch it, illegal drugs like the heroin intercepted in this case corrupts lives and attracts violence to our neighborhoods. Thanks to NYPD investigators and their partners in the office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and federal counterparts, these dealers have been stopped.”

Drug traffickers love disguising drugs as furniture—there's a long history of this. As for the kingpin statute, it was enacted two years ago: The NY Times explains, "The provision was established in 2009 during an overhaul of the Rockefeller drug laws. While the changes in the laws lessened penalties for several offenses, they also lengthened sentences for those deemed to be major drug distributors."