Skip to main content
Press Release

New York Woman Admits Role In Dominican Heroin Trafficking Ring

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – A New York woman today pleaded guilty to her role in a Dominican drug trafficking ring responsible for distributing multi-kilogram quantities of heroin in New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Maria Peterson, a/k/a “Chabela” 47, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to an information charging her with one count of conspiracy to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin and one substantive count of distributing more than a kilogram of heroin.

According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

During the course of an investigation into a drug trafficking organization operating in New Jersey, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and elsewhere, law enforcement learned that Yasmil Minaya, Martin Baez Garcia, Amauri Pimental Hogando, Peterson and others served as local distributors for the organization in New Jersey and New York. 

The narcotics, which were usually transported to New Jersey and New York via truck, were received and paid for by the defendants before they were distributed on the street. This drug trafficking organization has been linked to several multiple-kilogram seizures of heroin, including a seizure of approximately two kilograms of heroin in March 2015 in New York, a seizure of approximately four kilograms of heroin in November 2015 in New Jersey, and a seizure of approximately 10 kilograms of heroin in New Jersey in January 2017.

Peterson admitted that on March 25, 2015, she receiving a package of nearly two kilograms of heroin at her New York address, which she gave to Hogando. She also admitted providing money to a conspirator in order to pay for some or all of the four-kilogram heroin shipment that was sent to New Jersey on Nov. 28, 2015.

Both charges in the information are punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and a $10 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 11, 2018.

Garcia pleaded guilty in February 2018 and awaits sentencing. The charges against Minaya and Hogando are still pending, and they are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies dedicated to identifying and dismantling the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents and task force officers with the Drug enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Valerie A. Nickerson, and officers of the N.J. State Police, Trafficking North Unit, under the direction of Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Wangenheim of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Defense Counsel: Scott D. Finckenauer Esq., Fairview, New Jersey                       

Updated April 2, 2018

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 18-127