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April 13, 2017
Contact: Public Information Officer
Number: 212-337-2906

Illegal Alien Sentenced in Cocaine Conspiracy and on Firearms Charges

APR 13 (SYRACUSE, N.Y.)  - Chanel Garcia-Enrique, 37, a citizen of the Dominican Republic residing in Utica, New York, was sentenced yesterday to be imprisoned for 51 months, to be followed by three years of supervised release.  James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian, announced the sentencing. The sentence followed Garcia-Enrique’s October 7, 2016 guilty pleas to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a false identification document, and making a false statement.

As part of his guilty pleas, Garcia-Enrique admitted that: In early 2016, he conspired with others to distribute over 500 grams of cocaine in the Utica area. At the time of his arrest, Garcia-Enrique was lying in bed with a loaded 20-gauge shotgun. When first questioned by law enforcement officers, Garcia-Enrique said his name was “Avelino Vargas” and that he was a United States citizen, born in Puerto Rico, when in fact, he was a citizen of the Dominican Republic and was in the United States illegally. Garcia-Enrique also possessed, at the time of his arrest, false identification documents, including a New York State driver’s license and two New York State identification cards, all in the name of “Avelino Vargas” and bearing the defendant’s photograph. Garcia-Enrique previously was convicted in Oneida County of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, a felony.

“The fact that Garcia-Enrique slept in his bed with a loaded 20-gauge shotgun is a reminder to the public that drug dealers are dangerous for more reasons than just distributing poison,” said Hunt. “Violent crime goes hand in hand with drug trafficking in every city.  And in our city, DEA, along with our state, local and federal partners, have collaborated to remove these threats that lead to drug addiction and drug-related crimes.”

“The serious crimes committed by this cocaine conspirator with a loaded shotgun who abused our immigration system underscore the importance of vigorous enforcement of these offenses to preserving public safety,” added Hartunian. “The close collaboration of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that led to this sentence is the most effective way to secure justice.” 

This case was investigated by the DEA Syracuse Resident Office, the Oneida County Drug Task Force, the Department of Homeland Security - U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Central New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl G. Eurenius and Oneida County Assistant District Attorney Grant Garramone, a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney.

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