Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges Three Defendants With Narcotics Trafficking And Seizes Over $13 Million Worth Of Cocaine
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday August 02, 2012
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Wilbert L. Plummer, the Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), announced charges today against EDUARDO ANDINO, OMAR APONTE, and WILFREDO AQUINO in connection with the seizure of approximately 350 kilograms of cocaine. The wholesale value of the cocaine is more than $13,000,000.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “As alleged, these defendants were caught red-handed with prodigious quantities of cocaine that would ultimately have found its way to the streets of our communities, had it not been for the outstanding investigative work of law enforcement. Thanks to their efforts, this alleged narcotics trafficking ring has been thwarted and millions of dollars worth of cocaine has been seized.”
DEA Acting Special Agent-in-Charge for the New York Division Wilbert L. Plummer stated: “The Drug Enforcement Administration with coordination from the Yonkers Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Newark, have dismantled a major cocaine distribution network and prevented over 300 kilograms of cocaine worth approximately $10,000,000 wholesale from being distributed into our neighborhoods. These arrests demonstrate the continued combined investigative efforts of federal, state, local and host nation counterparts which identify and bring to justice drug traffickers at the highest levels responsible for inundating our communities with illegal drugs.”
As alleged in the Complaint filed in Manhattan federal court today:
On August 1, 2012, DEA special agents and other law enforcement officers were conducting surveillance in Bayonne, New Jersey. During their surveillance, they observed two cocaine transactions, both of which involved a warehouse located in Bayonne.
In the first transaction, AQUINO’s car was driven to the warehouse while he waited nearby. When his car was returned and he got back inside, AQUINO was stopped by law enforcement officers who found cocaine inside the car. In the second transaction, ANDINO drove a minivan away from the warehouse. A few blocks away, a law enforcement officer observed the minivan near a Cadillac Escalade. The hatch of the Escalade was open, and there were two men near the open hatch. Law enforcement officers later stopped the minivan, which was driven by ANDINO, and the Escalade, which was driven by APONTE. Cocaine was found inside the Escalade.
During a search of the warehouse and of APONTE’s and AQUINO’s cars, 351 brick-shaped packages were seized. In the warehouse, some of the packages were concealed in shipping palettes that contained bamboo flooring. Packages seized from each of the cars and the warehouse tested positive for the presence of cocaine. Each of the brick-shaped packages contains approximately 1 kilogram of cocaine.
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The defendants are each charged with conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, and face a maximum of life imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum term of 10 years’ imprisonment, and a maximum $10,000,000 fine. The three defendants appeared before Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis earlier today and were detained without bail.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the DEA New York Field Division, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Newark, the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York, the City of Yonkers Police Department, and the Bayonne Police Department.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Lonergan is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty