PHOTO: Authorities last week found a large shipment of cocaine neatly packed inside a spare tire (similar to the one pictured) in the back of an SUV in Jamaica. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
By Forum Staff
A Jamaica woman and two Texas men have been charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy for allegedly transporting $3 million worth of cocaine from Texas into the city, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
The three were allegedly trying to ship 12 kilograms of the white stuff.
Augustina Masea Baez, 51; Felipe Estacio-Ortiz, 63; and Jose Luis Ortiz-Garcia, 44, were arraigned last Tuesday on a criminal complaint charging them with first- and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy. Baez is additionally charged in a separate complaint with second- and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree criminally using drug paraphernalia. All three suspects were remanded into custody and their next court appearance is March 1.
According to the charges, on Sunday, Feb. 14, a white Nissan Armada was stopped by police at the intersection of 97th Avenue and 75th Street in Jamaica. Estacio-Ortiz was allegedly driving the sport utility vehicle and Ortiz-Garcia was in the front passenger seat. The vehicle was taken to the 115th Precinct where a search warrant was executed the following day. Police recovered six packages wrapped in electrical tape concealed inside the spare tire in the rear of the Nissan. The packages contained 400 ounces—or 26 pounds—of cocaine with an estimated street value of $2,940,000.
According to the charges, Brown said, Masea-Baez was observed by police entering and exiting a house on 97th Avenue the same day, carrying a bag on her shoulder. She was approached by police, who recovered a small quantity of cocaine in the handbag along with a scale and $3,398 in cash. Police executed a search warrant on the 97th Avenue home the following day and recovered two plastic twists containing cocaine, three plastic twists containing heroin, and two digital scales from the inside of a closet.
If convicted, each face up to 20 years in prison.
“Great police work led to the seizure of more than 12 kilograms of cocaine concealed within a spare tire of a vehicle the two men allegedly used to drive from Texas to New York,” Brown said. “The arrests of these three defendants is the result of a long-term investigation. The defendants are alleged to have conspired to bring the drugs to Queens and then to sell them here and in other parts of New York City. The Queens resident, whose home allegedly contained drug paraphernalia, is accused of playing a role in the plot. Drug dealers should be forewarned – Queens is not the place to import illegal narcotics or to sell them. The three individuals charged are facing considerable time behind bars if convicted.”