New York

Narcotics Trafficking Scheme in New York City Disguised Cocaine as Children's Gifts: Prosecutors

What to Know

  • 3 men, including an MTA bus driver, are facing numerous charges in connection to the alleged trafficking of narcotics, authorities say
  • According to prosecutors, the alleged cocaine-trafficking scheme involved the drugs disguised as children's gifts
  • The men face numerous charges, including criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first and third degrees

Three men, including an MTA bus driver, are facing numerous charges in connection to the alleged trafficking of narcotics disguised as children’s gifts, authorities announced Monday.

Christopher Kelly, 51, Salvatore Capece, 63, and Robert Woolridge, 38, are scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Manhattan. All three men are charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first and third degrees and criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree. Kelly and Capece are also facing charges of the criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree.

According to prosecutors, the arrests are a result of the alleged sale of two kilograms of cocaine nearing $74,300 outside a nail salon located on Avenue T in Mill Basin, Brooklyn, where Kelly worked as a manager.

On June 19, 2018, at around 5 p.m., authorities say agents and officers conducting surveillance outside the nail salon allegedly observed Kelly, from Brooklyn, retrieve a package wrapped in Minnie Mouse gift wrap from the trunk of an orange Dodge Challenger registered to Capece, of Effort, Pennsylvania. Allegedly, Kelly subsequently handed the package to Woolridge, who in turn gave Kelly a Burberry shopping bag. Authorities say Kelly drove off with the gift-wrapped package in an Audi.

According to prosecutors, that evening, agents and officers with Strike Force Group Z-41 observed Capeci exit the nail salon. At approximately 7:30 p.m., both Capece and Kelly arrived at Kelly’s residence on Avenue T, several blocks from the nail salon. Kelly allegedly carried the same Burberry shopping bag and a second package wrapped in pink Minnie Mouse gift wrap.

Agents obtained a court authorized search warrant for both the residence and the Dodge Challenger. Upon entering the living room, prosecutors say agents found the gift wrapped package had been partially opened, exposing two kilograms of suspected cocaine.

The Burberry shopping bag was also allegedly in the living room and contained about $74,300 cash. A search of the trunk of the Dodge Challenger yielded a kilo press used in packaging narcotics, authorities say.

Shortly before 7 a.m. on June 28, 2018, agents stopped Woolridge in a vehicle near his residence in the Throgs Neck neighborhood of the Bronx as he was on his way to his job as an MTA bus driver, prosecutors say, adding that Woolridge permitted the agents to enter his residence and retrieve a UPS bag from a kitchen cabinet.

Inside the bag were allegedly two kilograms of alleged cocaine worth up to $75,000, as well as scales and packaging materials.

Final laboratory test results on the narcotics are pending, authorities say.

“Brazen conduct, flashy cars and a soft spot for Minnie Mouse were the trademarks of the cocaine trafficking operation,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said when describing the narcotics trafficking scheme.

The indictments are a result of an investigation by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and the New York Strike Force, a crime-fighting unit comprising federal, state and local law enforcement agencies supported by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

“This case gives a new meaning to looking a gift horse in the mouth,” DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt said in a statement. “Shortly after giving and receiving a ‘gift’ of cocaine, the defendants were arrested for their scrupulous drug trafficking scheme.”

It is not immediately clear if the men retained attorneys to comment on the charges.

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