NYC smuggling ring used lunchboxes to hide drugs: prosecutors

0
19

Five men were indicted Wednesday for allegedly running a “vast narcotics conspiracy” where they smuggled millions of dollars worth of cocaine into New York City — using children’s lunchboxes, prosecutors said.

The zip-up lunchboxes — bearing popular cartoon characters from “My Little Pony” and “Despicable Me” — were mailed to homes across New York and Massachusetts via the US Postal Service, according to the city’s Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor.

“Concealing narcotic drugs in children’s lunchboxes was the modus operandi for this organization,” said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan. “If this tactic was designed to throw off law enforcement, it did not work.”

The alleged ringleaders, Carlos Duarte, 36, and Alexis Garcia, 41, are accused of shipping several packages of coke from Puerto Rico to the Big Apple between May 2020 and July 2021.

Both work as music managers representing artists in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, allowing them to travel frequently — allegedly as a cover for the drug-running operation, prosecutors said.

The drug smugglers used zip-up lunch boxes with a “Despicable Me” theme.
USPIS/NYDETF
Five individuals were indicted in a conspiracy to smuggle millions of dollars in cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York and Massachusetts via the U.S. Postal Service using kid’s lunch boxes.
Investigators confiscated 30 kilograms or more than 66 pounds of cocaine inside lunch boxes while unraveling the narcotics operation.
USPIS/NYDETF

Duarte, who also goes by “Showtime,” was busted Wednesday morning at his home in Yonkers with 400 grams of a white powdery substance, some of which tested positive as cocaine in a field test, according to the authorities.

Also arrested were Bryan Centeno-Rosado, 23, Raul Sweeney, 27, and Wesley Coddington, 43.

Investigators said they seized 30 kilograms of coke over the course of the probe — though they believe scores more could have been trafficked by the narcotics ring.

In many instances, the parcels were mailed to people who didn’t exist or individuals not associated with that address, prosecutors said. The return addresses were often in New York, though the shipments came from Puerto Rico. At least two had the return address of a luxury clothing boutique in Upper Manhattan.

Carlos Duarte
Carlos Duarte faces the top narcotics charge of operating as a major trafficker as well as conspiracy, criminal sale of a controlled substance and drug possession.
Alec Tabak
Alexis Garcia
Like Duarte, Garcia worked as music managers for artists in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, allowing them to travel frequently — allegedly as a cover.
Alec Tabak

A search of a vehicle Coddington was in on Jan. 21 allegedly turned up two kilograms of cocaine nestled in kid’s lunch boxes inside a hidden trap compartment in the back seat area, the indictment states.

On April 28, agents allegedly stopped Centeno-Rosado in a Lyft heading to Duarte’s Yonkers home with four kilograms of cocaine split between two lunchboxes, one gray and one red, according to the court documents.

“Over the years we have seen many creative ways that drug traffickers conceal illegal narcotics in an effort to elude detection from law enforcement,” said Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector in Charge of the US Postal Inspection Service.

“Hiding narcotics in kid branded-items is pathetic.”

Duarte faces the top narcotics charge of operating as a major trafficker. Other charges include conspiracy, criminal sale of a controlled substance and drug possession.

Sporting a gray hoodie and shaved head, Duarte pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court Wednesday aternoon. He was remanded into custody, with Justice Abraham Clott noting Duarte faces an “extraordinary amount of time in prison” should he be convicted of the alleged crimes.

Five individuals were indicted in a conspiracy to smuggle millions of dollars in cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York and Massachusetts via the U.S. Postal Service using kid’s lunch boxes.
Authorities were able to track down packages of cocaine being mailed to a clothing boutique in Upper Manhattan.
USPIS/NYDETF
Five individuals were indicted in a conspiracy to smuggle millions of dollars in cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York and Massachusetts via the U.S. Postal Service using kid’s lunch boxes.
USPS inspectors were not impressed by the drug smugglers’ attempt to stash cocaine inside children’s lunchboxes.
USPIS/NYDETF

The judge set bail for Garcia and Sweeney, who both also pleaded not guilty at their arraignments.

Centeno-Rosado and Coddington are set to be arraigned Nov. 17.

Source

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

nineteen + six =