Last week, police busted a heroin ring in a gentrified Red Hook neighborhood. Apparently, the dealers thought that by operating in a nicer neighborhood they could avoid law enforcement but they were wrong, the police & investigators caught up!

Amanda Mullen

Cops busted a heroin mill last week in a gentrifying section of Red Hook – part of a trend of heroin dealers operating in nicer neighborhoods, hoping to avoid law enforcement, authorities said.

Prosecutors say Hector Lorenzo, 46, was running the heroin mill out of a garage on Van Brunt St., amidst bars, cafes and boutiques that have sprung up in recent years.

Cops raided the building last Thursday night and found enough heroin to fill 3,000 glassine envelopes, with a street value of $30,000 to $50,000. The haul included 60 grams of pure uncut heroin.

They also found drug processing equipment – including a heat sealer, metal grinder, spoons and scales – plus 25 Xanax pills and marijuana.

Prosecutors say dealers have been trying to lay low by setting up shop in quiet city neighborhoods that are less likely to draw police scrutiny.

“We have seen a pattern developing of heroin mills located in upscale and middle-class neighborhoods,” said city Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan.

“Heroin traffickers are trying to locate their operations in places where they think law enforcement will not be looking for them.”

Big-time heroin mills once operated mostly in Washington Heights and the Bronx but, about three years ago, investigators started finding the drug dens in more middle-class areas.

In August, cops raided an apartment building in Glendale, Queens, where they found $500,000 worth of heroin – crippling the heroin supply to an increasingly middle-class clientele in Williamsburg.

Last year, investigators busted a heroin mill inside a $3,800-a-month apartment just off Times Square, seizing a whopping 28 pounds of heroin, worth about $6.5 million on the street.

Lorenzo, a ex-con with six prior felony convictions for weapons and drugs, was hit with six drug charges and faces up to 12 years in jail.

It’s unclear how long he was operating the heroin mill on Van Brunt St.

Neighbors said they had no idea what was going on inside the old garage.

“I guess they feel like they can hide in plain sight,” said Sean Hourigan, 33, of Red Hook.

Jay Cortez, 45, opened a custom T-shirt shop, Fula Shirts, on Van Brunt two years ago, opposite the building where Lorenzo was operating.

“I’m shocked. I didn’t know anything about it,” he said. “All this used to be a drug haven back in the early ’90s…[But] the neighborhood is changing.”