Manhattan federal court

4 Men Smuggled Nearly 5 Tons of Cocaine, Worth $144M, Inside Furniture: NY Feds

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What to Know

  • Four men face charges for allegedly trafficking nearly 5 tons of cocaine hidden in furniture from Puerto Rico to New York City, Connecticut and other locations, federal authorities announced Thursday.
  • They 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.
  • According to the allegations in an indictment unsealed Thursday in Manhattan federal court, the charges stem from alleged actions taken between September 2018 to June 2019.

Four men face charges for allegedly trafficking nearly 5 tons of cocaine hidden in furniture from Puerto Rico to New York City, Connecticut and other locations, federal authorities announced Thursday.

Pedro Guzman Martinez, Abel Montilla, Jorge Miranda-Sang, and Luis Gomez Ortiz are accused of 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, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) Ray Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) John B. DeVito, and Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”) Philip R. Bartlett, jointly announced Thursday.

The accused were arrested Thursday morning, with Guzman Martinez, 47, and Miranda-Sang, 42, being apprehended in Puerto Rico, Gomez Ortiz, 29, in Florida and Montilla, 48, in Springfield, Massachusetts. They 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.

Attorney information for the accused was not immediately known.

According to the allegations in an indictment unsealed Thursday in Manhattan federal court, the charges stem from alleged actions taken between September 2018 to June 2019.

It was during this time that Guzman Martinez, Montilla, Miranda-Sang and Gomez Ortiz were members of a drug trafficking ring that conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms and more of cocaine, according to prosecutors.

The accused allegedly 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. However, the hollowed-out furniture concealed hundred-kilogram quantities of cocaine. In total, the trafficking organization shipped about 4,500 kilograms of cocaine, worth approximately $144 million on the street.

“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," Strauss said.

Meanwhile Donovan said drug traffickers find new ways of smuggling.

“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," Donavan said. "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.”

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