JUN 28-- A federal judge has sentenced Estroredarcio Bernard, 51, of Providence, to 168 months in federal prison for a conspiracy involving a multi-kilogram shipment of cocaine from Colorado to Rhode Island in January 2006.
June W. Stansbury, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in New England and United States Attorney Robert Clark Corrente announced the sentence, which Senior U.S. District Court Judge Ernest C. Torres imposed yesterday in U.S. District Court, Providence. After hearing testimony from a state police detective at the sentencing hearing, Judge Torres ruled that Bernard was a leader and organizer of a drug-trafficking organization that brought multi-kilogram loads of cocaine into Rhode Island.
In December, Bernard, who is also known as Beligue, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. At the plea hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary E. Rogers said the government could prove that, in January 2006, agents with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA) monitored conversations between Bernard, in Providence, and Fernando Gonzalez-Ramirez, in Colorado. The two men discussed the price of cocaine that Gonzalez-Ramirez wanted to sell to Bernard. They agreed on $19,000 per kilogram, and Gonzalez-Ramirez said a shipment would arrive in Providence within a few days.
On January 30, 2006, agents saw a car with Colorado license plates outside California Liquors, a store on Union Avenue that Bernard operated, and subsequently followed it to a warehouse on Hathaway Street. Drug Enforcement Administration agents later that day seized from the warehouse 11 packages, each containing ½ kilogram of cocaine.
Agents that day arrested Bernard and the driver of the Colorado car, Adalberto Bejarano-Gonzalez, who is a cousin of Gonzalez-Ramirez. After additional investigation, federal agents arrested Gonzalez-Ramirez in Colorado in August 2006.
Bejarano-Gonzalez pleaded guilty to conspiracy and to possessing with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. In January, Judge Torres sentenced him to 37 months in prison.
In February, a jury found Gonzales-Ramirez, 34, guilty of conspiracy to traffic in five kilograms or more of cocaine, and Chief U.S. District Court Judge Mary M. Lisi sentenced him last month to 20 years in prison.
As part of the investigation, federal agents also seized nearly $100,000 in cash – $9,300 from a home in West Warwick, $70,500 from California Liquors, and $20,000 that Bernard’s wife turned over to the FBI. She was not charged.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Rhode Island State Police lead the HIDTA Task Force, and detectives from several Rhode Island police departments are assigned to it.