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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Three New Jersey Men Indicted In Cocaine Conspiracy

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Jose Rivas, 40; Jose Luis Santiago Almonte, 37; and Ryan Espinosa Ogando, 30, all natives of the Dominican Republic living in New Jersey, with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and attempted possession of cocaine. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life and a fine of $10,000,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Adler, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment and a previously filed complaint, in July of 2017, the Drug Enforcement Administration in Gulfport, Mississippi obtained information regarding the drug trafficking activities of defendant Santiago. Specifically, agents learned that Santiago and co-conspirators were arranging to purchase 50 kilograms of cocaine. The co-conspirators agreed to provide two vehicles as down payment for the cocaine. Defendants Santiago and Rivas traveled from New York City to Gulfport in order to make the arrangements, and multiple down payments in the form of vehicles and cash were made.

            In September of 2017, DEA agents received information that the defendants planned to travel to the Buffalo area in order to obtain kilograms of cocaine. A sale was arranged in Buffalo during which the defendants provided approximately $20,000 more in order to secure six kilograms of cocaine.  All three defendants showed up for the exchange.  During the exchange, defendant Espinosa took possession of a backpack containing sham cocaine, provided by the DEA.  The defendants were arrested at that time. 

The defendants were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder and released on conditions.

The indictment is the is the culmination of investigation by the Buffalo Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of James J. Hunt, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Division, and the DEA Gulfport, Mississippi Resident Office.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Updated January 25, 2018