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Press Release

Union County Man Admits Role in Cocaine Trafficking and Money Laundering Conspiracy

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

NEWARK, N.J. – A Union County, New Jersey, man today admitted his role in a cocaine trafficking and money laundering conspiracy, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Jose A. Rivera Jr., 48, of Union Township, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

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

Rivera is a leader of a drug-trafficking and money laundering organization. Law enforcement officers learned that Rivera utilized various locations to conduct narcotics trafficking and money laundering on behalf of the organization, including his residence and a stash location in Union.

On Nov. 6, 2020, law enforcement officers conducted lawful searches of the residence and the stash location and recovered over $1 million in cash, financial paperwork and notations related to narcotics proceeds and transactions. On Nov. 7, 2020, law enforcement officers conducted a lawful search of Rivera’s vehicle and recovered 191 grams of cocaine in a hidden compartment within the glove box of the vehicle.

The charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a statutory maximum fine of $1 million, or twice the amount involved in the offense. The charge of money laundering conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 29, 2021.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donovan in New York; special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina in Newark; and inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Rodney M. Hopkins in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations. The New York Strike Force is a crime-fighting unit comprising federal, state and local law enforcement agencies supported by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. The New York OCDETF Strike Force is housed at the DEA’s New York Division and includes agents and officers of the DEA; the NYPD; the New York State Police; HSI; IRS-CI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; U.S. Secret Service; the U.S. Marshals Service; New York National Guard; the Clarkstown Police Department; U.S. Coast Guard; Port Washington Police Department; and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lauren E. Repole of the Economic Crime Unit and Alexandra Tsakopoulos Saker of the OCDETF/Narcotics Unit in Newark.

Updated May 12, 2021

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 21-208