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NT man arrested, caught with 30 kilograms of cocaine hidden in a car

Thu, Jul 26th 2018 05:00 pm
U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. announced Monday that Edgar Joel Jimenez-Rodriguez, 38, of North Tonawanda, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $10 million fine. 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Astorga, who is handling the case, stated that, according to the complaint, at approximately 6:15 p.m., on July 19 law enforcement officers were on surveillance in the vicinity of Whitehaven and Baseline roads on Grand Island. At approximately 7:25 p.m., officers surveilled a car hauler, which contained several newer-looking Toyota vehicles, pull into the back parking lot of a Toyota car dealership on Alvin Road on Grand Island. The car hauler was also carrying an older-looking, black SUV later identified as a black Mercury Mariner bearing a Florida registration. Officers deemed this to be suspicious since Toyota does not manufacture or sell Mercury vehicles, and there was no Mercury dealer in the vicinity of the Toyota car dealership. 
Shortly thereafter, officers observed the defendant, driving a gray Honda Accord, enter the Toyota car dealership parking lot. The Honda Accord drove up to the car hauler while two men began to unload cars from the hauler. Jimenez-Rodriguez exited the vehicle for a time and watched as the vehicles were unloaded from the car hauler. Shortly after the black Mercury Mariner was unloaded, Jimenez-Rodriguez got into the car and left the parking lot.
At approximately 8:13 p.m., officers stopped the vehicle driven by the defendant. As officers performed a security sweep, they noticed clear plastic wrapping consistent with that of narcotics concealed underneath the rear cargo area of the black Mercury Mariner. A drug-detecting K-9 alerted to the rear cargo area. During a subsequent search of the vehicle, officers recovered approximately 30 kilograms of cocaine. 
"Illicit drugs ruin lives," said Kennedy. "The over 65 pounds of cocaine seized in this case had the potential to cause a great deal of misery and ruin a number of lives in our community. Fortunately, we were spared that fate by the dedicated federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, who work tirelessly each day to protect our community from the harm caused by illicit substances. My office will continue to support those efforts by charging, to the full extent of the law, those offenders who seek to poison our community and ruin lives through the unlawful distribution of drugs."
DEA Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt said, "The arrest of Edgar Jimenez-Rodriguez is an example of how surveillance and great police work can lead to taking 30 kilograms of cocaine off of the streets of Erie County, New York. I commend this collaborative law enforcement effort and thank all of those involved for stemming the tide of cocaine and millions of dollars of drug proceeds into our communities."
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, "This case speaks to the tremendous interagency coordination and cooperation necessary to get the seized cocaine off of our streets. These illegal drugs perpetuate a cycle of addiction and criminal behavior which in turn threatens the safety and security of our neighborhoods. I want to thank our members and law enforcement partners for their tenacious dedication to tracking illegal drugs and intercepting them at their source before they can be distributed on our streets."
The defendant made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy and is being held pending a detention hearing at 2 p.m. on July 24.
The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Hunt, New York Field Division, the Niagara Falls Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Bryan DalPorto, and the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team under the direction of Lt. Kevin Reyes and Maj. Mary Clark.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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