New York — The New York Attorney General’s Office this Thursday reported 12 individuals arrested from a network smuggling cocaine out of Puerto Rico to be sold in the state; Then the money was sent to the island.
As part of that operation, 16.5 pounds of drug, valued at more than half a million dollars, and more than $123,000 in cash were confiscated.According to a press release from the prosecutor’s office.
Those arrested were presented with 155 charges, including acting as a prime smuggler, criminal possession and sale of a controlled substance., pursuant to legal document, which further indicates that the drug was sold in quantities of two ounces or more in a county anywhere in the state or New York City.
The defendants were identified as Joel Calderon, Felix de Leon Ortiz, Daniel Dubino, Rafael Martinez, Edwin Rivera, Kevin Sanchez Bayala, Jose Torres, Shaun Armstrong, Corey Floyd, Christopher Hanaka, Gregory Prior And marshon spinner, who were arrested after a year-long investigation into what the authorities called “Operation Caterta”.
“These men allegedly smuggled more than $500,000 worth of cocaine onto the streets of New York from Puerto Rico and other areas at the cost of public safety. My office will continue to hold the violator of the law accountable.”, the Attorney General indicated Letitia James.
Investigators found that cocaine was being shipped from Puerto Rico to members of the network in various locations in New York City. It was also given to others to process and sell the cocaine, and the proceeds were sent to Puerto Rico.
As alleged in the indictment, The central figure in the trafficking network, 32-year-old Joel Calderone, bought and sold cocaine to many people in the region. Calderón mainly bought cocaine from 34-year-old Rafael Martínez, but when he did not have supplies he also bought 31-year-old Jose Torres. Adds statement.
Calderon later sold cocaine to Armstrong and several other resellers.
The Prosecutor’s Office also reported that wiretaps in this operation captured several conversations between Armstrong, Martinez, Calderon, Torres and others while they ordered cocaine and organized distribution for resale.
Calderón, Martínez and Torres are charged with acting as a heavy smuggler, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.
“By arresting the director of this organization, we have effectively blocked a major artery that supplies New York with illegal drugs.”The Director of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in New York said, Ray Donovan.