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Somerset County, New Jersey, Man Who Was Found with Air Tank Filled with 26 Kilograms of Narcotics Gets 70 Months in Prison

MAR 16 (NEWARK, N.J.) –– Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division and Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, announced a Somerset, New Jersey, man who was pulled over in an SUV with an air tank hiding 19 kilograms of cocaine and seven kilograms of heroin that he planned to distribute in the Jersey City, New Jersey, area was sentenced today to 70 months in prison.

Richard Vasquez Rodriguez, 35, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to a superseding information charging him with one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute heroin. Judge McNulty imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

On Jan. 16, 2014, Rodriguez was driving a 2005 Blue Chevrolet Tahoe on the New Jersey Turnpike headed towards Jersey City. Law enforcement officers pulled over Rodriguez, and he consented to a search of the vehicle.

Law enforcement found an air tank, similar to a helium tank for filling balloons, lying in the back of the Chevrolet Tahoe. Upon closer inspection, it appeared that one end of the air tank had been removed at some point and welded back together. A search of the air tank revealed that it contained approximately 19 kilograms of cocaine and seven kilograms of heroin. Rodriguez admitted that he transported the air tank with the intent to distribute the cocaine and heroin.

In addition to the prison term, Judge McNulty sentenced Rodriguez to three years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New Jersey Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski, and officers of the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Col. Joseph R. Fuentes, Superintendent of the State Police, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.


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