A total of 136 pounds of cocaine estimated to be worth about $3 million was seized by the New York City Police Department and Homeland Security investigators on Thursday.
The cocaine busts in the Bronx led to the arrests of Mark Soto and Xavier Herbert-Gumbs, both of Puerto Rico. The men, suspected to be a part of a major drug trafficking ring, were each charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, ABC News reported
"The sheer amount of cocaine seized in this case is staggering," New York City's Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan told ABC News. "This is the largest seizure of cocaine being transported in the region that our office has handled in recent years."
According to CBS New York, authorities stopped a rented
vehicle around 6:15 p.m. Thursday and found 110 pounds of cocaine inside. A passenger in the car, 24-year-old Herbert-Gumbs reportedly told authorities that he had placed the box holding the cocaine bricks in the vehicle.
About an hour later, authorities stopped 23-year-old Soto, a U.S. Army Reserves private, as he was taking a duffel back out of the trunk of a different vehicle. Officials found 26 pounds of cocaine inside, according to the television station.
Authorities told CBS New York that they believe the drugs were transported earlier from Boston, likely part of a "major narcotics trafficking network" discovered by authorities and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Reuters reported
"Recently, we've seen a lot more large seizures of heroin, so this case is certainly unusual." Kati Cornell, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor in New York, told the wire agency.
On Friday, officials searched an apartment and seized $6,000 and a U-Haul equipment contract in the name of "Mark Gomez," an alias they believe Soto was using, according to ABC News. They also found identifying documents belonging to Herbert-Gumbs inside the vehicle Soto was using — evidence that the two were working together in some capacity, prosecutors told CBS New York.
"The violence associated with cocaine trafficking and the illicit proceeds poses a major threat to our communities' welfare," said Glenn Sorge, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations New York. "HSI remains at the forefront of combating criminal organizations that threaten our homeland by smuggling drugs into the United States."
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