Authorities crushed a “sophisticated” drug ring that used SpongeBob bedding to conceal pounds of cocaine shipped through the US Postal Service from Puerto Rico to The Bronx.
Photo credit: Courtesy of The New York Post
This wasn’t child’s play.
New York authorities have crushed a “sophisticated” drug ring that used SpongeBob bedding to conceal pounds of cocaine shipped through the US Postal Service from Puerto Rico to The Bronx, officials said.
The narcotics operation also used two Bronx daycare centers — Sweet Home and Fun World Childcare — as fronts for their illicit activities, officials said.
The ringleader, Juan Valdez, and two accomplices, Juan Bernal and Ada Padilla, were busted Thursday after a five-year wiretap probe by the NYPD and Drug Enforcement Agency.
Valdez and Barnel were charged with narcotics sale and money laundering; Padilla was slapped with conspiracy and attempted narcotics sale.
All three were awaiting arraignment on the indictment in Manhattan Criminal Court Thursday afternoon.
Other members of Valdez’s crew were nabbed last September and are also under indictment on drug-related charges by the city’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan.
“These arrests end a brazen conspiracy that pumped narcotics worth millions onto New York City’s streets,” Brennan said in a press release. “Even after highly publicized arrests in September the narcotics trafficking continued unabated.”
Valdez’s operation utilized couriers who flew from JFK Airport to San Juan with suitcases filled with cash to pay for narcotics, officials said.
He also employed Bernal, a livery cab driver, who served as a liaison between Valdez’s associates in New York City and Puerto Rico, officials said.
Bernal also arranged cocaine shipments, chauffeured couriers to and from the airport and transported narcotics and drug proceeds.
Valdez allegedly hired Padilla to receive shipments of cocaine at her Bronx home.
On one occasion, Valdez sent an associate a text message with Padilla’s name and home address, 675 E. 140th St., officials said.
Postal inspectors intercepted the package bound for Padilla’s residence, finding 2 pounds of coke swaddled in SpongeBob SquarePants bedding.
Since 2009, US postal inspectors seized over 50 pounds of cocaine, worth $1.4 million, that was linked to Valdez’s drug biz.
Republished with permission of The New York Post