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News Release
April 2, 2004

Indictment Returned Against Cape Cod Drug Ring

Boston, MA... Five Massachusetts residents and one New York man were charged today in federal court with trafficking in cocaine.

Mark Trouville, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in New England and United States Attorney Michael Sullivan announced today that the Indictment charged the following individuals with conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, over five kilograms of cocaine:

1. MANUEL MENDES, age 29, formerly of 110 LaFrance Ave., Hyannis, MA;
2. CHRISTOPHER T. CUSTER, age 27, of 18 Murphy Road, Hyannis,MA;
3. CARMEN FIGUEROA age 24, of 90 Sandwich Road, Bourne, MA
4. DESIREE ALVES, age 23, of 299 Camp Street, West Yarmouth, MA
5. WILLIAM TEJEDA, age 27, of 1234 Boston Road, Bronx, NY
6. JENNIFER PAVAO, age 25, of 153 Bacon Street, Hyannis, MA

The Indictment, and an affidavit filed in support of a criminal complaint on March 16, 2004, alleges that the drug distribution conspiracy was overseen by MENDES, who is currently serving an 8 to 10 year sentence on a state cocaine trafficking conviction.

It is alleged that MENDES continued to operate his cocaine business from behind prison walls by using the telephone to direct others as to the distribution of cocaine and maintenance of the drug proceeds. On March 16, 2004, CUSTER and PAVAO were arrested after CUSTER met with TEJEDA in New York to pick up approximately 500 grams of cocaine. FIGUEROA and ALVES were arrested on the same day on the Cape.

Based on information gathered from court authorized wiretaps, it is alleged that CUSTER and FIGUEROA are associates of MENDES. It is alleged that FIGUEROA is responsible for collecting proceeds from narcotics sales, facilitating communication between MENDES and other members of the organization, and processing and packaging cocaine for sale on the Cape. It is alleged that CUSTER also has various responsibilities within the organization, including obtaining cocaine from the supplier in New York, TEJEDA, distributing the cocaine on the Cape, and collecting payments. It is alleged that TEJEDA supplies the organization, via CUSTER, with approximately 500 to 1,000 grams of cocaine every two to three weeks. It is alleged that ALVES allows her residence in West Yarmouth to be used to process, package and store cocaine. It is also alleged that ALVES collects and/ or holds drug proceeds for MENDES and CUSTER.

Additionally, the United States is seeking the seizure of FIGUEROA’s green Infinity Q45 sedan alleging that the vehicle was used in facilitating the organization’s drug distribution activities, as well as approximately $78,000 in cash, and approximately $25,000 in jewelry.

Following their arrests on March 16, 2004, FIGUEROA, ALVES and PAVAO were all released by the Court pending trial. TEJEDA and CUSTER are still in custody at this time. The next court date in the case is scheduled for April 6, 2004 before U. S. Magistrate Judge Judith R. Dein in Boston. If convicted on these charges, each defendant faces a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of 10 years, and a maximum term of life, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release, and a $4 million fine.

The case is being investigated by the members of the DEA’s Cape Cod Task Force along with the U. S. Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; the Yarmouth and Bourne Police Departments; the Massachusetts State Police; DEA - New York Division; Barnstable County District Attorney Michael O’Keefe’s Office; and the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office. The DEA’s Cape Cod Task Force is led by the DEA and comprised of members from the Bourne, Dennis, Mashpee, Plymouth and Wareham Police Departments.

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