176 pounds of cocaine seized in New York City – one of the largest cocaine seizures in NYC in recent years
19 people indicted for trafficking cocaine sold in the Bronx, and club drugs sold at nightspots throughout the city
BRONX, N.Y. – Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan, New York Division, United States Drug Enforcement Administration; Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark; New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill; and Homeland Security Investigations New York Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez today announced that 19 people have been indicted on charges related to trafficking cocaine and club drugs in the city. During the investigation, 176 pounds of cocaine with a street value of almost $3 million were recovered.
“This criminal network profited off the sale of cocaine and MDMA to mid-level drug traffickers, street dealers, and users throughout New York City,” said Ray Donovan, DEA Special Agent in Charge. “Illicit drug trends come and go, but in New York, heroin and cocaine have always been the headline drugs of choice. Ever since fentanyl hit the streets, traffickers have been creating their own trends. The mixture of heroin and fentanyl has become public health’s most potent enemy; and evident in recent statistics, the mixture of cocaine and fentanyl is following in its footsteps. Because of DEA intelligence, increased cocaine production in Colombia, and larger cocaine loads like the 80 kilograms seized in this case, New Yorkers should be warned that the cocaine of older times is deadlier today: CDC studies show that 40 percent of cocaine deaths in 2016 involved fentanyl. I applaud our law enforcement partners on their diligent work throughout this investigation.”
District Attorney Clark said, “We will stop traffickers of any illicit drugs that devastate lives and neighborhoods. These defendants allegedly distributed large amounts of cocaine sold on the streets of the Bronx and peddled dangerous ‘date rape’ drugs that wind up in bars and nightclubs. As always, I stand ready to work with my local and federal law enforcement partners to target drug dealers.”
Commissioner O’Neill said, “The NYPD and its partners are committed to eradicating drug trafficking in the City of New York. These are serious charges, and bringing those who commit these acts to justice is dangerous work. I commend the NYPD investigators, DEA agents, Homeland Security investigators, and the members of the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for their work in this significant case.”
Special Agent in Charge Melendez said, “This is a case of street dealers joining forces to corner the market for cocaine on the street and in clubs around the city. This high profit business simply seeks to exploit the vulnerabilities of those addicted, while seeking new customers in the club scene. Removing this amount of cocaine off the streets reduces the number of potential overdoses by the thousands. Law enforcement understands the importance of removing these drug pushers from the community and will continue to partner in investigations to arrest and prosecute those individuals.”
District Attorney Clark said the defendants are variously charged in three indictments totaling 227 counts of various degrees of Criminal Sale and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance and Conspiracy. Two of the defendants are charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker, which carries a minimum of 15-25 years to maximum of life in prison if convicted. 14 of the defendants were arrested in a takedown on May 1, 2019. 12 have been arraigned before Bronx Supreme Court Justice John Carter, two are awaiting arraignment and five have not yet been apprehended.
According to the year-long investigation by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, NYPD Bronx Gang Squad, DEA and HSI, the defendants trafficked large quantities of cocaine, which they sold in bulk to distributors, and which in turn was sold in $10 and $20 packets, sometimes in crack form, on Valentine Avenue between the Grand Concourse and East 187th Street.
One indictment charges 10 people with the cocaine operation, with Alvon Pierre and Elvis Gomez charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker. On Feb. 28, 2019, investigators seized 176 pounds (80 kilos) of cocaine in a vehicle and packed in suitcases in an apartment on 191st Street in Flushing, Queens that is connected to Pierre and co-defendant Robert Nieves. On Dec. 31, 2018, in the Bronx, $135,000 was seized from a secret compartment in Gomez’ Saturn SUV.
Another indictment charges five people with distributing MDMA (Ecstasy), alprazolam (Xanax) and ketamine. These controlled substances frequently turn up at clubs and nightspots throughout the city. According to the indictment, two of the defendants conspired to import pills from overseas, via international mail. Authorities in Brussels, Belgium intercepted 1.25 pounds of pure controlled substances before they could reach their destinations in the Bronx and Manhattan.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Kieran Linehan and Sara Barlowe of the Special Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Diego Hernandez, Chief of the Special Investigations Bureau, and the overall supervision of Tarek Rahman, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division, and Jean T. Walsh, Chief of the Investigations Division.
District Attorney Clark thanked NYPD, DEA and HSI as well as Bronx District Attorney Detective Investigators Matthew Cruz, Fernando Nunez and Marco Conelli, and Lieutenant Vincent Cantarella; as well as NYPD Detective Andro Stambuk of the BXDA Squad, for their assistance in the investigation. District Attorney Clark thanked her Asset Forfeiture Unit and Trial Prep Assistant Thomas Lee for their assistance. District Attorney Clark thanked NYPD Detective Luke Maddock of the Bronx Gang Squad for his work in the investigation.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and is not proof of a defendant’s guilt.
Kaharey Jeffers, 26, Yonkers, N.Y.
Devin Rivera, 19, Bronx
Rafael Guerrero, 28, Bronx
Benny Phillips, 27, Bronx
Audy Monzon, 32, Bronx
Robert Nieves, 41, Queens
Alvin Pierre, 44, Queens
Jose Guity, 20, Bronx
Michael Ortiz, 21, Bronx
Nicolas Beltre, 39, Manhattan
Eladio Polanco, 21, Manhattan
Kevin Aldebot, 25, Bronx
Not Arraigned Yet
Jonathan Davila, 20, Bronx
Shawn Wilson, 31, Bronx
Defendants Not Apprehended
Elvis Gomez, 34, Bronx
Frank Almanzar, 37, Manhattan
Salathiel Mora, 39, Manhattan
David Monet, 40, Queens
Brandon Santaella, 21 Bronx