A federal grand jury has indicted several people on narcotics and money laundering offenses.
The U.S. Attorney's office said that the following people have been charged on indictments that are the result of a 14 month long wiretap investigation into a "large-scale drug trafficking organization supplied by sources in Mexico and spanning at least four states." Miguel Betancourt, 50, of Springfield - charged with conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and money laundering conspiracy Isaac Cardona, 31, of Springfield - charged with conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, conspiring to traffic at least one kilogram of heroin, and money laundering conspiracy Rafael Cardona Sr., 58, of Springfield - charged with conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, and conspiring to traffic at least one kilogram of heroin Victor Hugo Gonzalez, 27, of Perris, CA - charged with conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and money laundering conspiracy Jose Martinez, 32, of Lehigh Acres, FL - charged with conspiring to traffic at least one kilogram of heroin, and money laundering conspiracy Carlos Mares Jr., 39, of Springfield - charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine Lorenzo Deconinck, 59, of Jamaica, VT - charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine Juan Ramos, 37, of Wardsboro, VT - charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaineSix of those suspects - Betancourt, Rafael Cardona Sr., Isaac Cardona, Mares, Deconinck, and Ramos - were arrested and arraigned Wednesday.
Gonzalez was reportedly arrested and appeared in court in Irvine, CA in October 2017, but prosecutors report that he failed to appear for a scheduled arraignment in Springfield on November 1, 2017. He is currently deemed a fugitive.
David Cruz, 40, of Westfield - whom the U.S. Attorney's office said is a ninth co-conspirator - was arrested in September 2016 and pleaded guilty to several charges, including conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Sentencing is scheduled for June 2018.
The U.S. Attorney's office said that according to court documents, the Cardonas, Betancourt, Gonzalez, and Martinez conspired with Crux to traffic approximately 32 kilograms of cocaine and at least one kilogram of pure fentanyl from Mexico, through California, to the Springfield area and into New England.
"Cruz allegedly received his first shipment of cocaine from his drug sources in Mexico in the summer of 2015. Cruz distributed five kilograms of that cocaine to Betancourt, leaving Betancourt with a large drug debt. In an attempt to pay down his drug debt, it is alleged that Betancourt used his Enfield, Conn., used-car dealership, State Line Auto Sales LLC, to convey two vehicles to Cruz and register them in Massachusetts in the name of a third-party. In December 2015, Betancourt used a bank account held in the name of the dealership to wire $9,500 of Cruz’s drug proceeds to a bank account in Michoacán, Mexico, held by a relative of one of his Mexican cocaine sources," prosecutors said in a statement.
Cruz then allegedly received additional cocaine shipments from Mexico in late 2015 and August 2016 and in July 2016, Mexican drug sources sent Gonzalez to Westfield to oversee a cocaine shipment's arrival.
On August 2, 2016, that cocaine reportedly arrived, hidden in a vehicle, and Cruz and Gonzalez allegedly unloaded over five kilograms of cocaine from the vehicle.
"Cruz then broke down and repackaged the cocaine for distribution in Vermont and Massachusetts, where approximately one and a half kilograms of cocaine was distributed to Isaac Cardona in early August 2016," the U.S. Attorney's office explained.
Gonzalez and another co-conspirator then, allegedly at the direction of the Mexican sources, deposited the cash proceeds from the cocaine sales in several accounts that were held by third-parties in amounts under $10,000, reportedly to avoid triggering reporting requirements by the banks.
The U.S. Attorney's office added in a statement, "The indictments also allege that Isaac Cardona owed Cruz money for one kilogram of the cocaine Cruz had distributed to him, and, in order to pay down that debt, Isaac Cardona, Rafael Cardona Sr., Martinez, Cruz, and other co-conspirators conspired to import at least one kilogram of heroin (which turned out to be pure fentanyl) from sources in Mexico. In late August 2016, Isaac Cardona and Martinez traveled by car to San Diego, Calif., with cash to pay for the heroin. Cruz later traveled to San Diego, retrieved the car and the cash, and, on Sept. 8, 2016, used the cash to purchase what he believed to be one kilogram of heroin. According to court proceedings, law enforcement in California seized the vehicle and recovered approximately one kilogram of pure fentanyl."
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