Nine people have been arrested in connection with a drug importation ring that shipped cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York City hidden in boxes of children's toys and puzzles, officials said Tuesday.
Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent-in-Charge John Gilbride said the five-month investigation revealed that Jose Diaz, 28, of Bronx, N.Y., directed associates in Puerto Rico to ship kilograms of cocaine concealed inside children's toy tool boxes and large toy container boxes to New York City.
The organization then used U.S. Postal Service Express Mail to deliver the packages to addresses in Manhattan and the Bronx.
Gilbride said four kilograms of cocaine, four handguns and $86,400 were recovered throughout the course of the investigation.
DEA officials said one sale occurred in June at Diaz's Bronx residence, where a Connecticut resident purchased a kilogram of cocaine concealed inside a children's pegboard stool. Diaz and another man, Jesus Diaz, 36, of Moonachie, N.J., also are charged with laundering the proceeds of the alleged narcotics business.
Gilbride said Diaz brought as much as $100,000 per week in drug proceeds to Prima Check Cashing, where Jesus Diaz, with the assistance of Lisa Rodriguez, 36, of Moonachie, N.J., sent wire transfers to associates in Puerto Rico.
Diaz — described as the head of the New York operation — was arrested July 30, and he and his co-conspirators were indicted by a grand jury on Aug. 29. He is being held on $500,000 bail and is due back in court Oct. 6.