When Miltron Brown was looking for an apartment, he settled on Riverside for a very common reason. He thought it was a beautiful community.

Brown, 36, made that statement to a Riverside police officer as he was being taken to a bond hearing on July 27 at the Maybrook courthouse. He was arrested the day before and charged with operating a large-scale heroin manufacturing business out of that one-bedroom apartment in the 7300 block of Ogden Avenue.

Police reported recovering 623 grams of heroin, 20 grams of cocaine and a fully loaded 9 mm handgun inside the apartment, along with packaging materials, grinders, scales, mixing cups and boxes of an over-the-counter sleep aid used to cut the packaged heroin so he could sell more of it.

The drugs had a street value of $250,000, according to police, who also recovered cellphones and notes containing distribution information.

 “It’s this department’s biggest arrest, at least in my 27 years plus on the force,” said Police Chief Thomas Weitzel. “He’s a major player who set up and rented that apartment for the specific purpose of processing, packaging and distributing heroin in the area.”

A Cook County judge set Brown’s bail at $350,000 cash. He remains at Cook County Jail. Weitzel said the Federal Bureau of Investigation has expressed interest in picking up the case. For now, the Cook County State’s Attorney is pursuing charges locally.

Police had Brown, a reputed member of the Vice Lords street gang, on their radar for more than a month, after officers noticed suspicious activity near the four-unit building. On Monday, they got their chance.

About 1:10 p.m. on July 25, an officer stopped a suspicious 2001 Buick Century in the vicinity of Haas and Ogden avenues. The driver, later identified as Brown, was arrested for driving on a suspended license. A pat down reportedly turned up $4,300 in cash and pills of the drug ecstasy, which were packaged for delivery.

By roughly midnight on July 26 police, armed with a search warrant and drug-sniffing dogs, entered Brown’s apartment. The dogs weren’t really necessary.

“There was cocaine and heroin blowing all over the place,” said Weitzel. “Everything was coated in heroin.”

Police had to wear masks as they collected evidence in the apartment. While officers found more 623 grams of heroin, two empty 1-kilo packages found inside the apartment indicated that Brown had already distributed most of his stash.

They found four unopened boxes, each containing 72 packages of Dormin, an over-the-counter sleep aid, used to mix with the heroin. Police also found eight empty Dormin boxes.

Brown moved into the apartment on April 1, said police, noting that Brown’s name was on the lease. But he didn’t live at the apartment. The only furniture inside were two couches, a table, a few chairs, a TV and a window air conditioner.

A bag containing heroin and the loaded Lorcin handgun were found on the floor next to the table that served as the work area. The handgun was traced to Mississippi, said Weitzel, but had not been reported stolen.

Weitzel said Brown actually lived at an address in the 1000 block of Hannah Avenue in Forest Park and that he basically commuted to Riverside to cut and package drugs.

Brown has been charged with four Class X felonies, including two for unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. Each charge carries a prison sentence of six to 30 years, if convicted.

He was also charged with two other felonies for possession of a controlled substance.

Brown is due back in court on Aug. 15 at the Maybrook courthouse.