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A six-month investigation by local and federal authorities led to the arrest earlier this week of a West Side man accused of being a high-level heroin dealer, and the confiscation of $368,000 in cash, officials announced Thursday.

George Torres, 51, was arrested Tuesday evening at his Garner Avenue residence and charged with federal drug and firearms counts.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda told reporters at a news conference Thursday that authorities who raided the Torres’ house found three handguns, a quarter of a kilo of heroin and $368,000 in cash – which Derenda said was an unusually large amount to be uncovered at a drug house.

The investigation started six months ago and was handled by Buffalo police in conjunction with the FBI Safe Streets task force, which brings together local and federal authorities and in this case included Buffalo police, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI. Derenda said that heroin has “re-emerged as the No. 1” drug in the region. He attributed the popularity of the street drug to the growing problem of prescription drug abuse. Young people are getting addicted to powerful prescription drugs and then turning to heroin – “a cheaper alternative,” Derenda said.

Torres was charged with unlawfully possessing with intent to distribute more than 200 grams of heroin, possessing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking and being a felon in possession of firearms. The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch.

Torres appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott Thursday and was being held without bail pending a detention hearing Tuesday. U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said at the news conference that if Torres is convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in federal prison and could face up to life behind bars.

email: mbecker@buffnews.com