Tuesday morning, police announced the arrest of nine people in the Bronx and Manhattan in connection with a drug importation and money laundering organization that shipped kilograms of cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York City concealed in boxes of children's toys and puzzles.
During the course of the investigation four kilograms of cocaine (8.8 pounds), four handguns, and $86,400 were recovered. The New York leader of the organization, Jose Diaz (aka Jose David Diaz-Ortega), was arrested on July 30, 2008. A total of nine people have been arrested and charged in an indictment unsealed today.
A five-month investigation revealed that Diaz-Ortega directed associates in Puerto Rico to ship kilograms of cocaine, concealed inside children's toy tool boxes and large building toy container boxes, to New York City. The organization used United States Postal Service Express Mail to make deliveries to drop off addresses in Manhattan and the Bronx.
Eight other members of the Diaz-Ortega drug or money laundering enterprise in the Bronx, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico also face top felony charges. The narcotics were destined to be sold to buyers on the East Coast.
One sale occurred on June 5, 2008 at Diaz-Ortega's Bronx residence. A Connecticut resident purchased a kilogram of cocaine concealed inside a child's pegboard stool. With the assistance of the New Haven Drug Enforcement Administration District Office and the Ansonia Police Department, the cocaine, still inside the stool, was recovered in the Waterbury, Conn., area.
Diaz-Ortega and Jesus Diaz, an employee in Prima Check Cashing, a money remitter and check cashing business at 1740 First Avenue in Manhattan, are also charged with laundering the proceeds of the narcotics business. As often as twice a week, Diaz-Ortega brought drug proceeds amounting to $40,000-$50,000 to Prima Check Cashing where Jesus Diaz, with the assistance of Lisa Rodriguez, sent wire transfers to associates in Puerto Rico. He also converted drug proceeds received in smaller denominations into $100 dollar bills. Diaz-Ortega stashed currency in his residence at 1314 Clay Avenue in the Bronx.
A June 13, 2008 search warrant at Diaz-Ortega's home led to the recovery of $86,400 and a .380 caliber handgun. Diaz-Ortega, who was not home at the time, was arrested on July 30, 2008 at First Avenue and 101st Street in Manhattan. He is being held on bail in the amount of $500,000 cash/$250,000 bond. His next court date is October 6, 2008 before the Honorable William Wetzel, Supreme Court Part 34. He and eight of his co-conspirators were indicted by a Special Narcotics Grand Jury on August 29, 2008.
This morning a search warrant at Cessa Eddy's Prospect Avenue Bronx home led to the recovery of .38 caliber, .25 caliber and .9 millimeter handguns and an ounce of cocaine and an ounce of marijuana packaged in numerous plastic zip seal bags for distribution. Teams of DEA agents and Special Narcotics investigators arrested the remaining defendants charged in the indictment, including: Mark Marasi, Cessa Eddy, Jackeline Viera, Jesus Diaz, Lisa Rodriguez, Juan Carambot, Jose Weekes, and Julio Perez.
The defendants were scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in Supreme Court Part 1.
Special Agent-in-Charge John Gilbride praised the DEA New Haven District Office, the DEA Caribbean Division and the Ansonia Police Department DEA for their assistance in this investigation.