Drug kingpin who gave up family as collateral gets 14-year sentence

A New York drug kingpin who sent his close relatives and a son as collateral in their multimillion-dollar drug deals was sentenced to 14 years in prison following a major bust.

Jose (Hippie) Mercedes became known for running a drug ring from his apartment in the Bronx and was caught with 70 pounds of heroin worth more than $50 million in 2015.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration said at the time it was one of the largest heroin busts in New York’s history.

After Mercedes serves his sentence, he will be supervised for five years after his release, the New York Daily News reported.

Mercedes gained notoriety following reports that he sent his family members, including his son, to the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico as collateral in the event of dope deals going south. Such arrangements were common practice, the New York Daily News reported.

Court documents claim Mercedes’ son once suffered a severe head injury during a trip to Mexico.

Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan claimed the drug kingpin lived a comfortable life and employed his family in the drug dealing operation.

"No prison sentence could possibly compensate the thousands from every community who have lost loved ones to heroin addiction," he added, "but I hope this lengthy sentence and our successful investigation will serve as a warning to traffickers who try to use our city as their headquarters."