Four Men Charged with Trafficking Nearly Five Tons of Cocaine Hidden in Furniture
NEW YORK - Ray Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Dermot Shea, New York City Police Department Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Kevin P. Bruen, New York State Police Superintendent, John B. DeVito, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service, announced today the unsealing of a superseding indictment in Manhattan federal court charging Pedro Guzman Martinez, a/k/a “Peter,” Abel Montilla, a/k/a “Coche Bomba,” Jorge Miranda-Sang, a/k/a “Chinito,” and Luis Gomez Ortiz, a/k/a “Kiké,” with participating in a drug trafficking organization that shipped approximately 4,500 kilograms of cocaine from Puerto Rico to the continental United States, including to New York, Massachusetts, Florida, and Connecticut, for sale and distribution over a period of approximately 10 months. Guzman Martinez and Miranda-Sang were arrested this morning in Puerto Rico and are expected to be presented before a magistrate judge in the District of Puerto Rico later today. Gomez Ortiz was arrested this morning in Florida and is expected to be presented before a magistrate judge in the Middle District of Florida later today. Montilla was arrested this morning in Springfield, Massachusetts, and is expected to be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker in the Southern District of New York later today. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan said, “Traffickers have always found new and innovative methods of smuggling drugs into the United States. In this case, they allegedly concealed cocaine into hollowed out furniture. This nearly three-year investigation has dismantled an international drug trafficking organization that allegedly has been shipping thousands of kilograms of cocaine, ultimately destined for our communities. I applaud our law enforcement partners from the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, NYPD, NYSP, ATF and the USPIS for their efforts in bringing this organization to justice.”
“Today’s charges demonstrate that the investigative efforts of New York City law enforcement are far-reaching, precisely-focused, and patient’, said NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “As long as individuals – wherever they are based – are involved in illegal narcotics trafficking, the NYPD and our partners will relentlessly work to stop the spread of illegal narcotics on our streets. I commend our colleagues at the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, our law enforcement partners at the DEA, ATF and USPIS for their dedication and hard work to bring these individuals to justice.”
New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “These arrests are the result of a sustained investigation into a narcotics trafficking organization that was shipping large quantities of cocaine into the United States, including New York. I want to thank our members and our law enforcement partners for their work on this case and their commitment to stopping the flow of illegal drugs into our country.”
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said, “These defendants allegedly hid nearly five tons of cocaine in furniture so they could ship it from Puerto Rico to New York City and elsewhere. As alleged, for a time, the defendants were able to hide their cocaine, but they were unable to hide the scheme from our law enforcement partners. We will continue to focus on prosecuting large-scale traffickers of illegal drugs.”
ATF Special Agent in Charge John B. DeVito said, “The defendants are alleged to run a drug trafficking organization which conspired to flood our streets with unprecedented levels of illegal narcotics. Thankfully, through the diligent efforts of our law enforcement partners, their alleged operation has been disrupted and dismantled successfully. ATF is committed to the fight against the illegal drug trade and will stand shoulder to shoulder with all of our local, state and federal partners to see that these organizations are eradicated from our communities. I would like to thank the United States Attorney’s Office for their leadership during this investigation.”
USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said, “Winning the battle against illicit drugs is a top priority for the Postal Inspection Service and our law enforcement partners. Our objectives are to rid society of illicit drug trafficking and the associated violence, and most importantly, provide a safe environment for the American public.”
According to the allegations contained in a Superseding Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court and other filings in the case:
Between at least September 2018 and June 2019, Guzman Martinez, Montilla, Miranda-Sang, and Gomez Ortiz were members of a drug trafficking organization (“DTO”) who conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms and more of cocaine.
The defendants operated the drug trafficking scheme by arranging for the shipment of approximately 70 large parcels from Puerto Rico to the continental United States. The cocaine was concealed in custom tables and other furniture, and the packages containing the cocaine were represented to be furniture on shipping documentation, but the hollowed-out furniture in fact concealed hundred-kilogram quantities of cocaine. In total, the trafficking organization shipped approximately 4,500 kilograms of cocaine, worth approximately $144 million on the street.
Guzman Martinez was responsible for delivering the packaged cargo (containing hollowed-out furniture filled with cocaine) to co-conspirators whom Guzman Martinez hired to facilitate the shipping logistics using a false company name.
Miranda-Sang and Gomez Ortiz identified and hired individuals in the continental United States to receive and sign for DTO shipments, to unpack and distribute the cocaine to other DTO members as directed, and to dispose of the packaging materials to evade detection by law enforcement.
Montilla was a Massachusetts-based coordinator of cocaine deliveries who traveled to many delivery locations and coordinated the delivery of cocaine shipments with package recipients. At least a dozen packages were sent to addresses affiliated with Montilla.
Montilla, 48, of Springfield, Massachusetts, and Guzman Martinez, 47, Miranda-Sang, 42, and Gomez Ortiz, 29, all of Puerto Rico, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute narcotics, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, ATF, and the USPIS in this investigation. The DEA New York Division’s NYDETF consists of agents of the DEA, detectives of the New York City Police Department, and investigators from the New York State Police.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Juliana N. Murray, Ryan B. Finkel, and Peter J. Davis are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Superseding Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.