Drug Enforcement Administration

New York

Raymond P. Donovan, Special Agent in Charge

April 01, 2015

Contact: Erin Mulvey

Phone Number: (212) 337-2906

Nine Members Of Major Narcotics Ring Extending Throughout Manhattan, The Bronx, And New Jersey Indicted On Conspiracy And Drug-Related Charges

Six individuals charged with A-I drug trafficking felonies

MANHATTAN, N.Y. - United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. and Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson today announced the indictment of Angel Alvarez, 28, Ralph Ben Cotto, 36, and seven co-defendants for their roles in a major narcotics trafficking ring that possessed and sold cocaine, as well as larger, resale quantities of the drug throughout Manhattan, the Bronx, and New Jersey. Alvarez and Cotto were charged in an indictment in New York State Supreme Court with Operating as a Major Trafficker, also known as the “Drug Kingpin” statute, and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, both class A-I felonies. All nine defendants are charged in the indictment with felony Conspiracy in the Second Degree, with several facing additional felony and misdemeanor charges related to the sophisticated narcotics operation.

DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said: “Angel Alvarez is a career criminal. For over four years, he evaded drug distribution charges stemming from alleged hand to hand sales to multiple kilogram sales, earning the nickname, ‘the Harlem Coke Kingpin.’ Federal, state and local law enforcement worked as one to successfully arrest not just Alvarez, but those working for him responsible for spreading poison throughout the streets of New York City.”

“The nine individuals charged in this indictment allegedly devised an elaborate conspiracy in order to move significant quantities of cocaine throughout New York City and New Jersey,” said District Attorney Vance. “Through this criminal enterprise, the defendants are alleged to have possessed, processed, packaged, stored, and distributed cocaine, transporting the narcotics in luxury automobiles paid for with illegal drug proceeds. One of the two people charged under the state’s Kingpin statute is also accused of completing a drug deal in front of his own child, and attempting to outwit law enforcement through counter-surveillance of police officers investigating the ring. As a result of the collaboration between my office and our partners at law enforcement agencies throughout the city, state, and New Jersey, this operation will no longer flood the streets of Manhattan, the Bronx, and New Jersey with illegal drugs.”

Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “This investigation is an example of the collaborative efforts among numerous law enforcement agencies working toward a common goal - to eliminate and hold responsible those trafficking narcotics into our communities.  We thank the investigators and prosecutors responsible for these arrests and indictments and for shutting down this alleged narcotics trafficking ring.”

Special Agent in Charge of HSI New York Raymond R. Parmer, Jr. said: “Today’s indictments send a clear message to drug kingpins everywhere - they are never too big to fail. This case displays our long term resolve and shared commitment with our law enforcement partners to keep dangerous illegal drugs off of New York City streets.”

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said: "Through the cooperation of law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels, a large drug operation has been dismantled and nine dangerous individuals are behind bars. These dealers, many of them career criminals and well-known to law enforcement, were selling and transporting cocaine in luxury vehicles in New York and New Jersey. I applaud the hard work of the agencies involved in this investigation and together we will continue the fight to keep drugs off our streets."
According to documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court, from July 2012 to March 2015, the defendants engaged in a wide-ranging conspiracy related to the sale and possession of cocaine throughout Manhattan, the Bronx, and New Jersey. Acting as the alleged leader of the conspiracy, Alvarez is accused of obtaining and transporting significant quantities of cocaine and using proceeds from drug sales to further finance the acquisition of a supply of cocaine for resale. In addition, Alvarez is accused of acquiring a number of luxury vehicles - including an Audi A7, a Mercedes Benz, and a BMW - for himself and for other members of the operation to use in order to transport illegal narcotics throughout New York and New Jersey. Alvarez is also alleged to have possessed, processed, packaged, stored, and distributed significant quantities of cocaine; communicated with other individuals for the purpose of making sales; maintained a supply of disposable cellphones for members of the operation to use for narcotics-related communications; and, in order to elude law enforcement, conducted counter-surveillance of police officers by following police vehicles, parking outside police facilities, and approaching police officers on the street.

The indictment also charges Alvarez with Money Laundering in the Second Degree for allegedly funneling the proceeds of the narcotics operation through financial institutions, including Chase and Capital One banks; by providing false information to open and maintain accounts; and structuring financial transactions, including bank deposits, in order to conceal the nature, location, source, ownership or control of the funds deposited in these accounts. During the course of the conspiracy, Alvarez is accused of making 171 deposits in these accounts totaling $144,000, mainly for the purchase and maintenance of vehicles used by the organization to facilitate the trafficking of narcotics. Alvarez is additionally charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child for allegedly selling cocaine in the presence of his four-year-old son, who was sitting in the defendant’s car at the time of the transaction.

Cotto is charged in the indictment with knowingly and unlawfully possessing cocaine valued at $75,000 or more with the intent to sell. Cotto is accused of using a 2015 Range Rover to travel between his townhouse in Newburgh, New York, and his co-conspirators’ apartments in New York City, for the purpose of advancing the narcotics conspiracy. 

Steve Rich, 31, and Daniel Brown, 29, are charged with obtaining and transporting significant quantities of cocaine, as well as the proceeds of cocaine sales, including more than $400,000 seized by Strike Force investigators. Rich and Brown are accused of transporting cocaine in luxury vehicles - including a Porsche, Audi, and BMW - allegedly provided by Alvarez. Rich, along with Fred Scott, 32, Frederick Faulcon, 45, Carlos Laureano, 26, Luis Alomar, 51, and Jordan Saleem, 35, also are accused of participating in the processing, packaging, storing, distribution, and sale of cocaine as part of the conspiracy, including, along with Alvarez, the August 2014 sale of a kilogram of cocaine to undercover detectives from the NYPD’s Bronx Narcotics Major Case Team.

The indictment follows a nearly four year joint investigation between the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office; the Bronx District Attorney’s Office; the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau, Narcotics Division, which includes Narcotics Borough Manhattan North and Narcotics Borough Bronx Major Case Teams; and the United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, which is comprised of agents and officers of the DEA, the NYPD, Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security (HSI), the New York State Police, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, New York National Guard, the New York Department of Taxation and Finance, the Rockland County Sheriff’s Office, the Clarkstown Police Department, the Port Washington Police Department, and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. The Strike Force is partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking (HIDTA).

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Ryan, Chief of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit, and Assistant District Attorneys Kieran Linehan and Cicely Harris of the Bronx District Attorney’s Office’s Narcotics Bureau, are handling the prosecution of this case, with the assistance of Jonathan Rivera, Investigative Analyst in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit. 

District Attorneys Vance and Johnson also thanked Fort Lee Police Chief Keith M. Bendul; Captain Stephen Gallagher; Police Officer Rick Hernandez, and K9 Greener, New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force; DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Keith G. Kruskall; NYPD Capt. Fernando Guimares; NYPD Lt. James Briscoe; DEA Special Agents Timothy Flaherty and Robert Vanecek; and NYPD Dets. Robert Geary and John Trapani; Manhattan North Narcotics Inspector Charles McEvoy; Captain Shawn Charlson; Sgt. Freddy Dominguez; Dets. Jose Sandobal and Angus MacKenzie; the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office; Narcotics Borough Bronx, Major Case Unit Inspector Christopher J. McCormack; Lieutenant Brendan Higgins; Dets. Patrice Wallace and Clarence Fredericks; and from NYPD Asset Forfeiture, Dets. Juancarlo Ramos and Francisco Portes
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