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U.S. Postal services used in drug smuggling operations

Cocaine Smuggled via mail in SpongeBob bedding.
Cocaine Smuggled via mail in SpongeBob bedding.
Courtesy of DEA

After a long-term wiretap investigation conducted by the DEA's New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Juan Valdez, aka Moreno, leader of a sophisticated drug and crime organization, and four of its members were arrested and indicted yesterday. It has been alleged that the group smuggled and trafficked large quantities of cocaine and oxycodone from Puerto Rico to New York via the U.S. Postal Service.

Valdez was charged with conspiracy, the possession and sale of controlled substances, weapons possession, money laundering, and other crimes after his arrest yesterday at the family home, 308 East 184th Street, Bronx, NY which was also used as a day care center called Sweet Home. During the course of the investigation court authorized searches were secured to conduct searches on two Bronx day care centers, yesterdays search also turned up approximately $7500 in cash that was found in the bedroom in the residence where Veldez was staying. Also arrested were Juan Bernal and Ada Padilla. The other search warrant obtained on September 11, 2013 was for 1499 Rosedale Ave., Bronx, NY, a resident that belong to Gregorio Hanley and his wife Johanna Vasquez, the residents was used to house the Fun World Childcare and was used as a cover for the drug organization. Both husband and wife were arrested and charged at that time, agents seized cash and narcotics.

According to the complaint and the wiretap investigation Valdez was the boss of day-to-day activities; Bernal, a professional livery cab driver, took care of the shipping of cocaine, the coming and going of cash proceeds and drove couriers to and from JFK Airport in New York as they made their way to and from San Juan, Puerto Rico with cash and/or narcotics.

Since 2009, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has seized packages containing 23 kilograms of cocaine (over 50 lbs.) worth approximately $1.4 million linked to Valdez's organization. Charges in the current indictment relate to nearly $300,000 in narcotics seized from the drug ring since August 2013, including 4 kilograms of cocaine (nearly 9 lbs.) and 1,000 pills of oxycodone. Authorities also recovered approximately $400,000 in criminal proceeds and a firearm during the course of the investigation.