July 31, 2013
$4.8 million Mexico to York County cocaine ring broken up
HARRISBURG - Six suspected cocaine dealers were charged today by the Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation (BNI) for allegedly participating in a $4.8 million cocaine trafficking ring.
Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said the investigation, known as "Operation Special Delivery," focused on the trafficking of bulk quantities of cocaine from Mexico to York County via Federal Express packages. Evidence and testimony regarding the alleged criminal activity was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges being filed today.
According to the grand jury, the investigation began after agents identified Maldonado-Velasquez as a significant distributor of cocaine in York County. Agents conducted a series of controlled purchases from Maldonado-Velasquez until his arrest in 2011. Following Maldonado-Velasquez's arrest, agents began investigating his cocaine source, Luis Ocampo.
The grand jury found that Ocampo had a close network of at least three individuals, who collectively were capable of distributing between three and four kilos of cocaine a month between Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey.
According to the grand jury, the cocaine the organization was distributing originated in Mexico and was shipped by parcel. One of the packages, which originated in Guadalajara, Mexico, was intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers in Tennessee. The package contained a decorative lighted garden stone with a kilo of cocaine concealed inside.
Agents executed a search warrant at Ocampo's West Market Street residence and seized the parcel containing the garden stone, approximately one kilo of cocaine, two electronic scales and faxed paperwork from Ocampo to a Mexican fax number.
Over the course of the investigation agents seized more than 1,700 grams of cocaine, approximately $26,000, five vehicles and a number of "La Santa Muerte" statues, which were displayed as a shrine within Jose Solorzano's residence.
Agents explained that La Santa Muerte, which translates to Death Saint, has become a "narco patron saint" within the Mexican drug community. Drug cartels allegedly believe this saint will protect them from law enforcement and from other drug cartel members. The shrines typically include money, lines of cocaine, or blood that are given as sacrifices to the saint.
Kane thanked the Hanover Borough Police Department and the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement investigators from the Department of Homeland Security for their assistance with the investigation.
The defendants were arraigned before York Magisterial District Justice Keith Albright. The case will be prosecuted in York County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Heather Adams of the Attorney General's Drug Strike Force Section.
Below is a complete list of the defendants and the charges against them.
--Luis Ocampo, 52, 2510 West Market St., Apt. B, York, York County, is charged with eight counts of delivery of cocaine, one count of possession with the intent to deliver cocaine, one count of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity and one count of criminal conspiracy.
--Luis Maldonado-Velasquez, 35, 1036 Derry St., Harrisburg, Dauphin County, is charged with two counts of delivery of cocaine and one count of possession with the intent to deliver cocaine.
--Eduardo Avalos, 23, 2510 West Market St., Apt. B, York, York County, is charged with five counts of delivery of cocaine and one count of criminal conspiracy.
--Sandra Valdez, 20, 2510 West Market St., Apt. B, York, York County, is charged with one count of possession with the intent to deliver cocaine and one count of criminal conspiracy.
--Mercedes Manjarrez-Torres, 39, 216 Penn St., Hanover, York County, is charged with two counts of delivery of cocaine and one count of criminal conspiracy.
--Jose Guadalupe Solorzano, 35, 972 ½ Carlisle St., Hanover, York County, is charged with two counts of delivery of cocaine, one count of possession with the intent to deliver cocaine and one count of criminal conspiracy.
(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)
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