November 13, 2015
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-3900
Two Out-of-State Residents Charged In Massive Queens Marijuana Bust
800 pounds of pot seized after driver failed to signal changing lanes
QUEENS COUNTY, N.Y. - James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York (DEA), Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico, and New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, today announced that a Texas man and a Florida man have been charged with illegally possessing more than 800 pounds of marijuana after members of the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force stopped an out-of-state U-Haul vehicle in the vicinity of Kennedy Airport last night when the driver failed to signal when changing lanes.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Hunt said, "The New York Drug Enforcement Task Force is the largest and oldest task force in the nation. And this case highlights the effectiveness of the three agencies involved; DEA, NYPD and NYSP. As a result of good police work and keen observations, two people were arrested and over $3 million worth of high grade marijuana was seized. As the task force approached the vehicle, it was clear that the intense odor emanating from the U-Haul truck was indicative of the massive amount of marijuana found inside."
"According to the charges, a minor traffic infraction is the cause for these two individuals to be facing serious drug charges and lengthy incarceration," said District Attorney Brown, noting that this is the second largest marijuana bust in Queens over the last six weeks. "The message couldn’t be clearer: drug dealers should steer clear of Queens County."
State Police Superintendent D’Amico said, "The work of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force has stopped a significant amount of marijuana before it can reach our communities in New York State, and put the two men responsible behind bars. I want to thank our partners for their continued dedication to tracking illegal drugs and intercepting them at their source before they can be distributed on our streets."
Police Commissioner Bratton said, "The NYPD remains committed to collaborative policing which empowers law enforcement to better protect our communities. I commend the work of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force whose continued commitment to keeping our neighborhoods safe prevented more than 800 pounds of marijuana from reaching our streets."
The District Attorney identified the defendants as Dean M. Webb, 45, of Caryle Road, Tampa, Florida, and Michael V. Laico, of Saums Road, Houston, Texas. The defendants were arraigned last night before Queens Criminal Court Judge Michelle Armstrong on two separate criminal complaints charging each man with first-degree criminal possession of marihuana, a Class C felony punishable by up to five and one-half years in prison. Webb was also charged with a violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law for failing to signal. Webb and Laico were each ordered held on $75,000 bond/$25,000 cash bail and to return to court on November 25, 2015.
District Attorney Brown said that, according to the charges, task force members were in the vicinity of 182nd Street and Rockaway Boulevard on the afternoon of November 10, 2015, when they observed a U-Haul vehicle with Arizona license plates move from one lane of traffic to another without signaling. It is alleged that after stopping the vehicle an officer approached the vehicle’s driver’s side window and spoke to Webb, the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, who stated that he was bringing "this" to an individual known as "Scott" and then followed up with the comment, "Let’s do this."
It is additionally alleged that after Webb executed a written consent to allow officers to open and examine the rear area of the U-Haul vehicle, the officers observed five large cardboard-type crates sitting on wooden pallets in the rear area and smelled an odor of marijuana emanating from within the vehicle and the crates. It is estimated that the cardboard crates held a total of more than 800 pounds of marijuana wrapped and packaged in numerous plastic bags.
While Webb was being detained, he allegedly received a phone call from "Scott," to whom he allegedly stated, in sum and substance, "I have the package. Where do you want me to bring it?" In response, "Scott" allegedly stated, "Hey, are you ok? I saw those three people stop you," to which Webb allegedly replied, "Yeah, I’m ok. My GPS is broken and I don’t know where to go." In response, "Scott" allegedly stated, "I see the U-Haul Truck. I’ll be right there."
Thereafter, it is alleged that an individual wearing a "hoodie" walked up to a parking lot area in the vicinity of Rockaway Boulevard and Guy R. Brewer Boulevard where the U-Haul vehicle had been parked. When officers asked him if he was "Scott," the individual allegedly identified himself as "Scott." It is further alleged that although Webb initially said he did not know "Scott," when confronted with his personal clothing items found in "Scott’s" vehicle, Webb admitted that he knew "Scott" and that it was to "Scott" that he was bringing the recovered marijuana.
Finally, it is alleged that the individual known as "Scott" had in his possession three separate driver’s licenses with the name "Michael Vincent Laico" and his likeness but with three different addresses. Laico allegedly told officers, in sum and substance, "This is what me and Dean do. We’re done this before many times. When we get the order to pick up, we rent a storage locker, rent a truck and go to the place to pick up the stuff. Then we store the stuff in the storage until for someone else to pick and get paid."
Assistant District Attorney Ajay D. Chheda, of the District Attorney Brown’s Narcotics Investigations Bureau, is prosecuting both cases under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Wilbert J. LeMelle, Bureau Chief, Mark L. Katz, Deputy Bureau Chief, Philip Anderson, Supervisor, and Julie S. Trivedi, Section Chief of the Violent Crimes Unit, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni.
It should be noted that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.