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NEW YORK CITY- A New York City man was arrested last month while found in possession of about $300,000 worth of cocaine.
While a cocaine arrest in New York isn’t typically big news, this one had an interesting side note…the cocaine was packaged with a picture of Joe Biden on it, no doubt crediting our esteemed president with the current spate of illicit drugs entering the country at the porous southern border.
— New York Post (@nypost) December 14, 2022
The Washington Examiner reports that Reynaldo Almonte, 29, was arrested when the cocaine was found in a hidden compartment of his vehicle. He was indicted in Manhattan Supreme Court on a number of drug-related charges.
“Similar to business marketing, drug traffickers brand their deadly product in various ways using hot topic photos, logos, or stamps referencing pop culture and current events,” explained DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino, according to Fox NY5.
Drug dogs assisted officers in locating the secret compartment in Almonte’s Nissan, located near the back passenger area of the vehicle. Police also recovered some $50,000 cash on the front floor of the car, police said.
All told, there were six kilogram-sized packages seized, along with an additional $7,000 cash from the secret compartment. In addition to the Biden-branded coke, others had pictures of a cat and the letters “AMG,” authorities said.
Almonte was initially spotted carrying a shopping bag which appeared to contain unusually heavy contents near his vehicle while they were conducting surveillance in the borough of Queens last month.
According to the New York Post, officers followed Almonte to the West Farms neighborhood in The Bronx, where the arrest was made.
“Cocaine continues to be a significant factor in overdose deaths in New York City,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said, Fox NY5 reported.
“Cocaine has always posed significant health risks, but it is now commonly mixed with fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other deadly substances, increasing risks to users. Taking thirteen pounds of cocaine off of our streets will save precious lives.”
Prosecutors said Almonte was released on a $300,000 bond on Dec. 8.
Meanwhile, a drug ring in Upper Manhattan was broken up earlier this month, according to The Post. The bust resulted in over a dozen men being indicted on federal charges for running the year-long plus drug operation which dealt over 380 grams of crack cocaine, authorities said.
The 14 suspects were distributing the drug in Harlem from November 2019 through last month, an indictment from the States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York read.
One member of the drug ring was also charged with robbery, which was related to a gunpoint robbery of a person attempting to buy narcotics and a gun on Nov. 3, authorities said.
The arrests were made as part of a law enforcement operation called “Operation Harlem Heat,” which involved officers from the NYPD’s narcotics, vice and gang units, as well as the Department of Homeland Security Investigations unit, police sources said. The operation, which included execution of search warrants and arrests happened last Wednesday.
“As alleged in the Indictment, the defendants were responsible for selling large amounts of crack cocaine in Manhattan,” Acting Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss said. “Thanks to the extraordinary work of our partners at NYPD and HIS, the defendants now face federal charges for their crimes.”
NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison praised the arrests last week:
“Yesterday, members of Manhattan North Narcotics and our federal partners executed numerous search warrants. They recovered 5 illegal firearms, a large quantity of narcotics and apprehended ten subjects of the investigation. Keep up the treat work and stay safe!”
Yesterday, members of Manhattan North Narcotics and our federal partners executed numerous search warrants. They recovered 5 illegal firearms, a large quantity of narcotics and apprehended ten subjects of the investigation. Keep up the great work and stay safe! pic.twitter.com/pF1KOdjPKU
— NYPD Chief of Department (@NYPDChiefOfDept) December 3, 2020
The suspects are all in the custody of the US Marshall’s Service.
All were charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. One was charged in the November 3 robbery, officials said.
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