Crime and Courts

Smugglers Used Kids' Lunch Boxes to Ship Cocaine From Puerto Rico to New York: Prosecutors

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Five people have been charged with allegedly using children's lunch boxes to ship millions of dollars in cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Authorities intercepted a total of 66 pounds of cocaine hidden inside school binders and lunch boxes with popular cartoon characters on them. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents in New York on Wednesday arrested accused ringleaders Carlos Duarte and Alexis Garcia in Yonkers.

Three other suspects, Rual Sweeney, Wesley Coddington and Bryan Centendo-Rosado, were arrested earlier in the investigation that began last year.

Duarte and Garcia both have residences in New York and investigators said the two work as managers representing recording artists in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, which they allegedly used as a cover for narcotics-related activity.

“Concealing narcotic drugs in children’s lunchboxes was the modus operandi for this organization. If this tactic was designed to throw off law enforcement, it did not work,” said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan.

The five men were charged with conspiracy and multiple counts of possession of controlled substance. Duarte faced an additional charge of operating as a major trafficker. It's unclear if they have a representative who can speak on the charges.

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