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April 21, 2006
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Pa. wiretap investigation busts $10M coke ring

Janet Kelley, New Era Staff Writer
Copyright 2006 Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.
 
Lancaster, PA 
 

In the music world, a "maestro'' is a conductor of an orchestra.

In Lancaster's drug world, prosecutors say, Jose "Maestro'' Daniel Arias was orchestrating a $10 million cocaine operation, bringing several kilos of illegal contraband into the county every week.

This morning, prosecutors outlined Arias' operation and detailed an investigation by the state attorney general's office dubbed "Operation Maestro,'' which resulted in the arrest of the ringleader and 10 of his alleged conspirators.

As Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett and Lancaster County District Attorney Donald Totaro briefed the news media, the suspects were taken into custody and brought into the city police station.

In a 52-page arrest warrant affidavit, investigators described finding hidden compartments in cars, making undercover drug purchases in the Wal-Mart parking lot on Lincoln Highway East and listening to the suspects' cell phone conversations.

"Today we have shut down a major cocaine pipeline coming into Lancaster,'' Corbett said. "We allege this ring was distributing up to 100 kilos of cocaine in the past year which would be significant for a city as large as Philadelphia, let alone Lancaster.''

"This is the third time within the past 14 months that law enforcement officers have taken down large drug enterprises in Lancaster County,'' Totaro said this morning.

"These defendants were high-level drug dealers transporting significant quantities of cocaine into Lancaster County,'' Totaro added. "We will continue to partnership with local, state and federal authorities to target high-level drug dealers and we look forward to continued cooperation with Attorney General Tom Corbett and his agents in this effort.''

"Operation Maestro'' began in the fall of 2005 when undercover agents purchased cocaine from Arias, the alleged ringleader.

From September 2005 to January 2006, undercover agents with the state's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and the county's Drug Task Force made seven cocaine purchases from either Arias or his roommate, Adalberto "Frank'' Rivera-Diaz.

Agents would meet the suspects in the parking lots of various businesses and make the purchases, usually buying quantities of drugs for several thousand dollars in cash.

After several months of drug exchanges, law enforcement officers obtained a court order to put a wire tap on Arias' cell phone.

With that, detectives monitored conversations between the suspects and what they interpreted as arranged drug deals, according to the affidavit.

Corbett explained that either Arias or Rivera-Diaz would regularly travel to the Bronx, N.Y., to obtain kilo quantities of cocaine, then break it down into smaller quantities for resale in Lancaster.

Every 7 to 10 days, prosecutors said, Arias would obtain a delivery of between three to five kilos of cocaine.

Police also learned that the car used to transport the cocaine back and forth from New York, as well as another vehicle used in the distribution of drugs in Lancaster, had secret compartments for hiding the illegal contraband.

In February, police started serving search warrants, finding scales and drug packaging materials, loaded handguns and thousands of dollars in cash.

When they went to Arias' home at 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 22, according to the affidavit, they also found a kilogram of suspected cocaine in his car.

Arias and several of the suspects were taken into custody at the time, prosecutors said, with additional charges to be filed today. Others were arrested this morning.

Rivera-Diaz has left the area, police said, and warrants have been issued for his arrest.

According to the state attorney general's office, here is a list of the suspects, their addresses and charges:

Jose "Maestro'' Daniel Arias, 27, of 58 Foal Court, is charged with five counts of delivery of cocaine, two counts possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count each possession of drug paraphernalia, conspiracy, participating in a corrupt organization and criminal use of a communication facility.

Adalberto "Frank'' Rivera-Diaz, 30, of 58 Foal Court, two counts delivery of cocaine, one count each possession with intent to deliver cocaine, participating in a corrupt organization, conspiracy and criminal use of a communication facility.

Edward "Tito'' Milanes, 31, of 43 W. Vine St., Apt. 2, two counts possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count each possession of drug paraphernalia, conspiracy, participating in a corrupt organization and criminal use of a communication facility.

Jose "Lee'' Guzman, 41, of 416 S. Lime St., Apt. 1, two counts possession with intent to deliver cocaine, one count each conspiracy, participating in a corrupt organization, criminal use of a communication facility.

William Rivera-Sanchez, 33, of 134 Heritage Drive, one count each of possession with intent to deliver cocaine, conspiracy, possession of drug paraphernalia, participating in a corrupt organization and criminal use of a communication facility.

Brenda Vazquez, 33, of 627 S. Christian St., two counts participating in a corrupt organization, one count each possession with intent to deliver cocaine, conspiracy and criminal use of a communication facility.

Also charged with one count each of possession with intent to deliver cocaine, conspiracy, participating in a corrupt organization and criminal use of a communication facility were:

Eduardo "Canya'' Bencosme, 21, of 125 Hitching Post Lane;

Antonio "Tony'' Hernandez, 35, of 3 Michelle Drive;

Nathan "Flaco'' Rivera, 23, of 49 N. West End Ave., Apt. 2;

Daisy Sanchez, 43, of 749 S. Plum St.; and

Daniel Rivera-Sanchez, 35, of 2834 Lincoln Highway East, Ronks. 
 
left and District Attorney Donald Totaro talk about "Operation Maestro.'' Marty Heisey State Attorney General Tom Corbett, New Era
 
April 21, 2006

Full story: Pa. wiretap investigation busts $10M coke ring






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