New Jersey Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Transporting 13 Kilograms of Cocaine Through Maryland

Stolen Personal Information and Counterfeit Credit Cards of More Than 250 Victims Used to Defraud Banks and Local Businesses

March 29, 2012

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles sentenced Jonathan Melendez, age 31, of Lodi, New Jersey, today to 10 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Colonel Marcus L. Brown, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Cecil County Sheriff Barry A. Janney, Sr.; and Special Agent in Charge Ava Cooper-Davis of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Field Division.

According to Melendez’ guilty plea, on March 9, 2010, Melendez was driving a rental car northbound on I-95, when he was pulled over for speeding by Maryland State Police. While the trooper was conducting his initial interview, he noticed that Melendez appeared excessively nervous, breathing rapidly and his hand began to tremble heavily as he handed the trooper his driver’s license. The trooper asked Melendez to get out of the car in order to further explain the reasons for the vehicle being stopped and noticed that Melendez was increasingly more nervous, although he had been advised by the trooper that he was only going to be issued a warning ticket for the traffic violations. Based on Melendez’ excessive nervousness, the one-way vehicle rental and other indicators, the trooper requested that a narcotics detector K-9 come to his location. The K-9 scanned the vehicle and gave a positive indication for the presence of narcotics odors. MSP troopers then conducted a search of the vehicle and located a blue duffle bag containing 13 kilogram sized “bricks” of cocaine in the trunk of the car. Melendez was arrested and subsequently admitted that he had picked up the cocaine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for transport to New York City.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the Maryland State Police, ICE HSI’s Baltimore Office, Cecil County Sheriff’s Office and DEA for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Christopher J. Romano, who prosecuted the case.

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