Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that VICENTE ESTEVES, a/k/a “El Bori,” was sentenced to 222 months in prison for being a supervisor in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute at least 150 kilograms of cocaine, which ESTEVES and his coconspirators hoped to import from Puerto Rico. ESTEVES was convicted on August 4, 2022 following an eight-day jury trial. Codefendants Heiver Ruiz-Patozano, Luis Gonzalez-Maldonado, and Alexander Almonte-Macea were previously sentenced for participating in the conspiracy by U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl, who also imposed today’s sentence.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “The business of cocaine ruins lives, destroys families, and foments violence. Vicente Esteves returned to that business barely a year removed from serving a sentence for trafficking thousands of kilograms of cocaine into our communities. Today’s sentence makes clear that this Office and our law enforcement partners will work tirelessly to ensure that the business of drug trafficking does not pay for anyone—least of all kingpins like Esteves.”
According to the Superseding Indictment and the evidence at trial:
Between at least in or about September 2020 and in or about December 2020, ESTEVES belonged to a New York/New Jersey-based drug trafficking organization (“DTO”) that attempted to purchase 150 kilograms of cocaine from purported Colombian suppliers, who were in fact undercover law enforcement agents. The DTO negotiated for the delivery of the cocaine in Puerto Rico, with the delivery of the purchase money in the Bronx, New York. On the day of the exchange, December 4, 2020, ESTEVES and coconspirators arrived in the Bronx to complete the transaction with two suitcases stuffed with more than $1.3 million cash, which was intended as a payment for part of the overall 150-kilogram transaction. A third suitcase, containing more than $644,000 in additional cash, was later recovered in a stash house that ESTEVES and coconspirators met at before the transaction. During the transaction, a coconspirator described ESTEVES as “El Jefe”—that is, “the boss.”
ESTEVES participated in this conspiracy less than a year after being released on parole from a prior sentence for drug trafficking offenses. Specifically, ESTEVES previously pled guilty to being the leader of a transnational drug enterprise that trafficked thousands of kilograms of cocaine—worth hundreds of millions of dollars—into the U.S.. In connection with that prior drug trafficking conduct, ESTEVES also admitted to conspiring with his then-defense attorney to kill potential witnesses.
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Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Drug Enforcement Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York City Police Department, the New York State Police, the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Homeland Security Investigations, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Edison Police Department.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Jun Xiang, Ashley Nicolas, and Frank Balsamello are in charge of the prosecution.