Drug Enforcement Administration

New Jersey

Valerie A. Nickerson, Special Agent in Charge

April 02, 2018

Contact: Timothy P. McMahon

Phone Number: (973) 776-1100

New York Woman Admits Role In Dominican Heroin Trafficking Ring

NEWARK, N.J. - Valerie A. Nickerson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division, and Craig Carpenito, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, announced a New York woman today pleaded guilty to her role in a Dominican drug trafficking ring responsible for distributing multi-kilogram quantities of heroin in New Jersey.

Maria Peterson, a/k/a “Chabela” 47, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to an information charging her with one count of conspiracy to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin and one substantive count of distributing more than a kilogram of heroin.

According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

During the course of an investigation into a drug trafficking organization operating in New Jersey, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and elsewhere, law enforcement learned that Yasmil Minaya, Martin Baez Garcia, Amauri Pimental Hogando, Peterson and others served as local distributors for the organization in New Jersey and New York.

The narcotics, which were usually transported to New Jersey and New York via truck, were received and paid for by the defendants before they were distributed on the street. This drug trafficking organization has been linked to several multiple-kilogram seizures of heroin, including a seizure of approximately two kilograms of heroin in March 2015 in New York, a seizure of approximately four kilograms of heroin in November 2015 in New Jersey, and a seizure of approximately 10 kilograms of heroin in New Jersey in January 2017.

Peterson admitted that on March 25, 2015, she receiving a package of nearly two kilograms of heroin at her New York address, which she gave to Hogando. She also admitted providing money to a conspirator in order to pay for some or all of the four-kilogram heroin shipment that was sent to New Jersey on Nov. 28, 2015. Both charges in the information are punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and a $10 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 11, 2018.

Garcia pleaded guilty in February 2018 and awaits sentencing. The charges against Minaya and Hogando are still pending, and they are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents and task force officers with the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Valerie A. Nickerson, and officers of the N.J. State Police, Trafficking North Unit, under the direction of Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan, with the investigation.

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