Drug Trafficking Organization Second In Command And Ring Leader's Wife Plead Guilty To Cocaine Conspiracy
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
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BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Josue Cardona-Soto, 38, of Puerto Rico, and Virgen Perez-Jurado, 28, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, over five kilograms of cocaine. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life in prison, and a $10,000,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura A. Higgins and Jeremiah E. Lenihan, who are handling the case, stated that between June 2017 and September 29, 2017, Cardona-Soto assisted Cesar Rivera-Figueroa, a/k/a Fat Boy, the leader of a drug trafficking organization, by making deliveries of bulk quantities of cocaine to mid-level distributors in the organization, collecting drug proceeds from them, and retrieving packages containing bulk quantities of cocaine shipped from Puerto Rico in the U.S. mail. Perez-Jurado, the wife of Cesar Rivera-Figueroa, also distributed bulk quantities of cocaine to mid-level distributors, collected payment, stored the organization’s drug proceeds inside her Wiley Street residence, and taught co-conspirators the means and methods of drug-trafficking.
On August 15, 2017, Cardona-Soto was appointed by Rivera-Figueroa as his second-in-command to replace co-defendant Daniel Navarro. Navarro and Rivera-Figueroa had a falling out after the organization suffered some loses as a result of law enforcement seizures of cocaine.
In addition to completing multiple drug transactions locally, Cardona-Soto also made trips to the New York City area, sometimes with Rivera-Figueroa, to pick up bulk quantities of cocaine or make payments for cocaine.
Cardona-Soto and Perez-Jurado were charged along with 10 other defendants. A total of seven defendants have been convicted.
The pleas are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert; the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan, New York Field Division; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in Charge John B. Devito, New York Field Division; the United States Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin; the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood; the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Edward Kennedy; and the Erie County Sheriff’s office, under the direction of Sheriff Timothy Howard.
Cardona-Soto and Perez-Jurado are scheduled to be sentenced on January 2 and January 3, 2020, respectively, both before Judge Vilardo.
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