U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
December 12, 2011
Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A Warwick, R.I., man convicted in federal court in February 2011 of trafficking cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking was sentenced Friday to 181 months in federal prison. Jose Luis Maldonado, 38, a Dominican national, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith to 121 months in prison on the drug trafficking charges and to a consecutive sentence of 60 months in prison on the firearm charge.
Maldonado’s sentence was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Guy N. Thomas, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
During a two-day trial in which the jury returned guilty verdicts on all charges after deliberating for less than three hours, evidence was presented that, on April 7, 2009, local officers and ATF agents arrested Maldonado, and searched his Warwick and Cranston residences and his vehicle seizing more than 720 grams of heroin, 560 grams of cocaine powder, 225 grams of crack cocaine, two loaded firearms, ammunition and more than $6,500 in cash.
Evidence was presented at trial that based on information developed during an ongoing investigation, ATF agents detained Maldonado as he exited his Warwick apartment. From his person, agents seized nearly 156 grams of crack cocaine wrapped in black electrical tape, and plastic wrapping which contained a digital scale and additional drugs. Police also seized $482 in cash and 2 cell phones.
Evidence was presented to the jury that from inside Maldonado’s Warwick apartment, agents seized $6,100 in cash found stashed under a kitchen counter, a counterfeit currency detection pen and a laptop computer. Maldonado admitted to agents that all of the narcotics seized were his and that he had been selling cocaine for approximately eight years.
Evidence was presented at trial that Maldonado then gave permission for agents to search a Cranston apartment in which he also resided. Inside the apartment, agents located a “hide” inside a wall where they discovered more than 688 grams of heroin, heroin presses, scales, and 2 loaded firearms: a .45 caliber handgun and a 9mm pistol, and nearly three-dozen rounds of 9mm ammunition. Maldonado told agents and police that he obtained the guns for protection
Evidence was also presented to the jury that a search of Maldonado’s vehicle yielded another hide within the dashboard area from which agents and police seized nearly 563 grams of powder cocaine, nearly 73 grams of crack and nearly 33 grams of heroin.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Milind M. Shah with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard W. Rose and Gerard B. Sullivan.
The matter was investigated by ATF, with the assistance of Providence, Cranston, and Warwick Police and the Massachusetts State Police.