Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) New York Division, New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II and U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector in Charge Philip R. Bartlett announced today the extradition of a major narcotics supplier who allegedly conspired to smuggle millions of dollars in cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York City and Rhode Island through U.S. Postal Service packages.
NORIS GAUTIER-RIOS was arrested in Canovanas, P.R. as a fugitive on July 26, 2017. Following state extradition proceedings, he was transported to New York on November 27, 2017 and is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Abraham Clott, Part 61, 111 Centre Street. An indictment filed by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor charges GAUTIER-RIOS with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree and Attempted Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree.
A total of six defendants were charged as a result of a long-term wiretap investigation by the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (NYDETF), Group T-12. Approximately 11 kilograms of cocaine (over 24 pounds) were intercepted during the course of the investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in New York City and Rhode Island. However, this is believed to be a fraction of the total number of kilograms imported by the drug trafficking organization.
At the outset of the investigation in October of 2016, agents and detectives identified SANTOS MAISONET-ROMAN, aka “Apache,” of the Bronx, as head of a drug trafficking organization that received multi-kilogram shipments of cocaine from Puerto Rico on a monthly basis through U.S. Postal Service packages. As the MAISONET-ROMAN drug trafficking organization expanded, the network allegedly imported cocaine to Providence, R.I., and communities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Florida.
Through the court authorized wiretap, agents and detectives developed information that MAISONET-ROMAN and his girlfriend LINNETTE TOSSAS-MOJICA were receiving cocaine from GAUTIER-RIOS, of San Juan, P.R.
With assistance from DEA Caribbean Division, agents identified GAUTIER-RIOS as a major narcotics supplier allegedly responsible for the importation of hundreds of pounds of Colombian cocaine from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland. GAUTIER-RIOS had previously served prison time for an attempted murder conspiracy targeting a public official.
In order to avoid detection by postal workers and would-be thieves, GAUTIER-RIOS allegedly prepared the cocaine for shipment by packing multiple kilograms inside metal cosmetic boxes that were sealed with silicone. The packages were then mailed to fictitious names at real addresses in New York and Rhode Island. Members of MAISONET-ROMAN’s network watched for the parcels and intercepted them upon delivery.
Through the wiretap investigation, agents identified members of MAISONET-ROMAN’s network, including his son LEONARDO MAISONET-FIGUEROA and brother VICTOR MANUEL ROMAN-RAMOS, both of Providence, R.I. FIDEL SANCHEZ, a source of supply to street level dealers in the Bronx, allegedly provided postal addresses where drug packages were shipped. All three have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the investigation.
MAISONET-ROMAN allegedly purchased cocaine from GAUTIER-RIOS for an average of $28,000 per kilogram. During a 10-month period, approximately $2 million in drug proceeds were transferred to GAUTIER-RIOS through an elaborate network of money brokers over the course of 10 months. This represents the cost of at least 70 kilograms of cocaine (over 150 pounds) sold in less than one year.
Agents conducted a court authorized search of MAISONET-ROMAN and TOSSAS-MOJICA’s Bronx home at 3431 Riverdale Avenue, Apt. 2, at the time of their arrests. Among the items recovered was a notebook bearing TOSSAS-MOJICA’s name and containing tracking numbers for packages shipped via the U.S. Postal Service, as well as quantities and prices for narcotics.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan commended the work of her office’s Special Investigations Bureau and the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (NYDETF) Group T-12, which is comprised of agents, detectives and investigators with DEA New York Division, the New York City Police Department and the New York State Police. She also thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and DEA Caribbean Division for their assistance in the investigation.
“This narcotics organization operated a lucrative, interstate mail-order business, the success of which depended upon elaborate systems of packaging, shipping and payment. However, it was only a matter of time before law enforcement began intercepting packages and the multi-million dollar scheme unraveled,” said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan.
DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt stated, “Gautier-Rios was a violent multi-million dollar cocaine trafficker who supplied drug dealers and addicts throughout the Northeast. By collaboration, law enforcement identified the crew’s smuggling operations and unique concealment methods that led to arrests and the dismantlement of this illegal organization.”
“Our investigation revealed an extensive cocaine smuggling operation through Puerto Rico and into New York and Rhode Island,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “Our thanks to all of the investigative agencies and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor whose work made today’s arrests and extradition possible—and will inevitably keep our City safer with this serious drug smuggling operation disrupted.”
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, "The culmination of this investigation and the disruption of this illegal drug trafficking operation is, once again, evidence of the commitment we share with our law enforcement partners to keep dangerous drugs off our streets. I applaud the hard work and cooperation between our state, federal and local law enforcement. Each day our members see the harmful effects drugs such as cocaine have on individuals, families and our neighborhoods. Together, we will continue to aggressively target and pursue criminals who bring dangerous drugs into our communities, threaten the safety and security of our neighborhoods, and profit at the expense of our citizens."
“Mr. Gautier-Rios and his crew misused the U.S. mail to facilitate the transportation of cocaine from Puerto Rico to the United States, a mistake that will cost them far more than the profits they made from their illegal operation. Postal Inspectors and their law enforcement partners will not tolerate the use of the US Mail for the transportation or distribution of illegal substances. Violators will be identified, arrested and prosecuted to fullest extent of the law,” said Inspector in Charge Philip R. Bartlett.
Pending charges and allegations are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.Download Press Release
Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office
New York City Police Department
DEA, New York Division
New York State Police