NYDETF Seizes $2 Million Worth of Cocaine Concealed as Individually Wrapped Candy
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 New York Division (DEA), James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) and George P. Beach II, Superintendent of the New York State Police, announced the seizure of five kilograms of cocaine (12 lbs.), the majority of which was concealed as individually wrapped candies.
Yesterday evening, members of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (DETF) Group T-41 were conducting surveillance near the corner of 77th Street and Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights, Queens as part of an ongoing drug investigation at approximately 6 p.m. when they observed defendant JUAN PABLO MARTINEZ exit 3226 82nd Street carrying a weighted black backpack.
Agents and officers followed MARTINEZ as he climbed onto a bicycle and rode to a gas station located at 76-11 Northern Blvd., where he approached the driver of a grey Acura MDX. Members of T-41 watched MARTINEZ place the backpack into the rear seat of the grey Acura and pump gas for the vehicle. MARTINEZ then removed the backpack from the vehicle.
Agents and officers approached the vehicle, identifying themselves as police officers. MARTINEZ showed them what appeared to be a piece of candy that he pulled out of the backpack and allowed the agents examine the bag’s contents. Agents and officers observed what appeared to be individually wrapped candy inside two colorful heat-sealed bags. Closer inspection revealed the candy wrappers contained cocaine. Agents seized two kilograms of cocaine and placed MARTINEZ under arrest at 7:30 p.m.
Immediately afterwards, members of Group T-41 searched MARTINEZ’s residence, a basement apartment located at 3226 82nd Street, and recovered two more kilograms of cocaine packaged as candy, a kilogram of powdered cocaine, a kilo press, drug ledgers and $12,000 cash.
The DEA estimates the black market value of the cocaine to be approximately $2 million dollars. The defendant is expected to be arraigned today in Manhattan Criminal Court.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan thanked the Queens District Attorney’s Office and
commended her office’s Special Investigations Bureau and the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement
Task Force, including members of the DEA, New York City Police Department and the New York State
Police, for their work on the case.
Bridget G. Brennan said, “The sophisticated nature of this drug trafficking operation is evidenced by the
method of concealment – cocaine wrapped in commercial-grade candy packaging. However, the
traffickers met their match yesterday when our law enforcement partners in the New York Drug
Enforcement Task Force acted on accurate intelligence and effectively disrupted a major supply chain.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt stated, “Leave it to drug traffickers to smuggle cocaine
disguised as candy; showing the extreme but evil ingenuity used to make a profit off the sale of
poison. We have seen so many different concealment methods, but none more dangerous than using
candy as a façade which opens doors to inadvertent overdoses if mistaken by a child.”
State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “I want to commend the outstanding work done
by the members of the DETF on this case. With this bust, we have removed a significant amount of
cocaine from the streets and put a dangerous dealer behind bars. Our continued collaboration with our
federal and local law enforcement partners is a critical part of disrupting these illegal drug pipelines.”
The charges and allegations are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until
Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office
New York City Police Department
DEA New York Division
New York State Police