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North Tonawanda man pleads guilty to drug charge

Thu, Apr 25th 2019 12:25 pm

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. announced last Thursday that Edgar Joel Jimenez-Rodriguez, 39, of North Tonawanda, pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr. to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 5 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 between October 2017 and July 19, 2018, the defendant conspired with Jose Garcia-Santiago, Katherine DeJesus-Gonzalez and others to distribute cocaine.  On July 19, 2018, the defendant picked up a Mercury Mariner containing 30 kilograms of cocaine, which was intended for distribution in the Western New York area. Law enforcement stopped the vehicle and arrested the defendant. 

Previously, beginning in May 2018, investigators intercepted numerous conversations involving the defendant discussing cocaine trafficking and the associated proceeds. Many of those conversations were with co-conspirators Garcia-Santiago and DeJesus-Gonzalez, whom the defendant supervised. On May 26, 2018, law enforcement officers stopped a vehicle driven by Garcia-Santiago with DeJesus-Gonzalez as the passenger, and found 5 kilograms of cocaine. The defendant directed Garcia-Santiago and DeJesus-Gonzalez to pick up this cocaine from the New York City area for distribution locally.

In September 2017, the U.S. Postal Service intercepted packages arriving from Puerto Rico and addressed to various residences in Niagara Falls. Postal inspectors seized approximately 5 kilograms of cocaine that were intended for the defendant and his co-conspirators. 

Charges remain pending against Garcia-Santiago and DeJesus-Gonzalez. 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.  

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan, New York field division, the Niagara Falls Police Department, under the direction of Superintendent Thomas Licata; and the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team under the direction of Lt. Kevin Reyes and Maj. Mary Clark.

Sentencing is scheduled before Geraci at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 15.

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