U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
February 28, 2011
FEDERAL JURY CONVICTS NARCOTICS TRAFFICKER
OF DRUG AND GUN CHARGES
Defendant faces up to life imprisonment
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A federal jury on Friday found Jose Maldonado, 37, guilty of trafficking in cocaine powder, crack cocaine, heroin, and a related firearms offense. The jury returned guilty verdicts on all charges contained in a six count indictment after deliberating for less than three hours. The Warwick man was arrested by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in April of 2009.
During the two-day trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Milind M. Shah presented evidence that, on April 7, 2009, local officers and ATF agents arrested Maldonado and executed search warrants at the defendant’s Warwick and Cranston residences and of his GMC Envoy vehicle, seizing more than 720 grams of heroin, 560 grams of cocaine powder, 225 grams of crack cocaine, 2 loaded firearms and more than $6,500 in cash.
Maldonado’s guilty verdict was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and
Guy N. Thomas, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Boston field office.
“Drug dealers do not operate in a vacuum. They are a blight on our neighborhoods, and firearms are very much their tools of the trade. Mr. Maldonado, an armed, full-service drug dealer, has now been brought to justice. He faces a lengthy sentence in federal prison, and deservedly so,” commented U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha. “I am grateful for the excellent work of the Assistant United States Attorneys and federal, state and local investigators who put this case together. In particular, I want to thank ATF for its leadership, and continued strong partnership with my Office.”
Based on information developed during their ongoing investigation, 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 a plastic wrapping which contained a digital scale and more drugs. Police also seized $482 in cash and 2 cell phones.
Inside Maldonado’s Warwick apartment, agents seized $6,100 in cash found stashed in a bag under a kitchen counter, a counterfeit currency detection pen and a laptop computer. Maldonado admitted to agents that all of the narcotics found were his and that he had been selling cocaine for approximately 8 years. He also admitted to cooking the crack himself.
The defendant then gave permission for agents to search a Cranston apartment where 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 firearms: a .45 caliber handgun which was loaded with 5 rounds of ammunition, and a 9mm pistol which was loaded with 14 rounds of ammunition. Maldonado told agents that he obtained the guns from drug customers and that they were for protection.
A search of Maldonado’s vehicle yielded another hide within the dashboard area of the SUV. From inside the dashboard area, police seized nearly 563 grams of powder cocaine, nearly 73 grams of crack and 4 bags of heroin totaling nearly 33 grams.
Maldonado was convicted on one count each of possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; possession with the intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment; possession with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years imprisonment; possession with the intent to distribute crack cocaine, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment; possession with the intent to distribute heroin, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, which carries a minimum sentence of five years imprisonment, consecutive to other sentences imposed, and a maximum of life imprisonment. Maldonado also faces up to a total of more than $5,000,000 in fines.
U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith, who presided over the trial, scheduled a sentencing hearing to be held on June 7, 2011.
The matter was investigated by ATF, with the assistance of Providence, Cranston, and Warwick police and the Massachusetts State Police.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerard B. Sullivan assisted in the prosecution of the case.