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Press Release

Two People Charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine

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

NEWARK, N.J. – Two people were charged in connection with a drug distribution conspiracy after U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers found more than six kilograms of cocaine in neck pillows following their arrival at Newark Liberty International Airport, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

Rafael Francisco Bautista Perdomo, 20, and Brenda Alyssa Mancebo, 20, are each charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. Both appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk in Newark federal court and were detained without bail.

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

On Oct. 11, 2017, Perdomo and Mancebo arrived at Newark Liberty on an inbound flight from Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Each brought a neck pillow with them onto the flight as carry-on items.

During a routine baggage screening, CBP officers discovered approximately three kilograms of cocaine sewn inside each of the neck pillows that the defendants were carrying.

The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a potential maximum penalty of life in prison, and a $10 million fine.

Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited officers of CBP, under the direction of Leon Hayward, Acting Director, New York Field Operations, and special agents U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New Jersey Field Office, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Debra Parker, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ari B. Fontecchio of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated October 13, 2017

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 17-379