Federal investigators have seized more than a ton of cocaine from an alleged drug trafficking organization, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced in New York on Tuesday. The bust is the largest cocaine seizure destined for the streets of New York for more than a decade, officials said.
“A multimillion-dollar storm of cocaine was seized before it could wreak havoc in the Northeast,” said Ray Donovan, the special agent in charge of the DEA’s New York branch. “The DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to protect themselves against drug trafficking organizations’ tactics and techniques for smuggling drugs into our country.”
Jorge Aponte-Guzman, Nelson Agramonte-Minaya and Carlos Maisonet-Lopez were indicted on Monday and charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine, authorities said. If convicted, each accused could risk a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Aponte-Guzman reportedly traveled to meet Maisonet-Lopez and Agramonte-Minaya around Sept. 29 in a rental car, according to an indictment released in a federal court on Monday. Law enforcement officers seized approximately 1,014 pounds of cocaine packed inside large metal lawn rolls from the vehicle, officials said. The cocaine was allegedly shipped from Puerto Rico to New Jersey and was on its way to the Bronx, New York, according to investigators.
So around September 30, officials seized another 1,014 pounds of cocaine from the same charging station that Aponte-Guzman had visited the day before.
Cocaine seizures in New York have risen more than 150% in the past year, Donovan said. In 2019, cocaine was involved in more than half of New York City’s total overdose deaths, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Across the country, seizures of cocaine rose by 11% in September alone, according to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.
Thomas Gleason, Westchester County Police Commissioner, said the massive seizure “underscores the critical importance of working with our federal and local law enforcement partners.”
“The enormous work and dedication from the DEA and the Task Force Investigators has interrupted a major drug distribution operation and prevented approx. your of dangerous, illegal drugs from being distributed on the streets of our area, “he said in a statement.