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Heroin trafficker allegedly linked to El Chapo, accused of threats against witnesses convicted in N.Y. court

October 3, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Heroin trafficker allegedly linked to El Chapo, accused of threats against witnesses convicted in N.Y. court

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A heroin trafficker with alleged links to Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman offered cash to fellow prisoners at the Albany County jail to murder two former associates who testified against him, Sheriff Craig Apple announced.

The suspect, 50-year-old accused heroin trafficker Manuel Luna of the Bronx, was convicted last week in a trial in Albany for state charges that may land him behind bars for 25 years to life, the Albany Times Union reported.

He was accused of making the threats while in a booking cell at around 6:30 pm on Wednesday.

However, Luna failed to intimidate his way out of a not guilty verdict. a jury convicted the native of the Dominican Republic of drug trafficking charges.

Prosecutors accused Luna of selling around $6 million in cocaine and heroin to a client, Geraldo “Bejo” Torres, between 2013 and 2015.

Luna, Torres, and six suspects were indicted in a case brought forward by District Attorney David Soares’ office last year.

Torres, 44, testified against Luna in court, along with 37-year-old Jose Beltran, known as “Moreno,” who is also a known drug trafficker.

“What he was trying to do was incite other inmates to participate in harming inmates Beltran and Torres for a fee,” the sheriff stated.

The accused cocaine and heroin trafficker was found guilty last Thursday during the two-week trial, which some 40 witnesses testified before New York state Supreme Court Justice Richard Mott.

According to Apple, Luna, who was intentionally placed in a special housing unit away from Torres and Beltran, faces additional charges for the threats.

“We have a very large facility, and I can hide and protect inmates from exact situations like this,” the sheriff said.

On Wednesday, Felix Cruz-Lara, a former inmate, testified that he overheard Luna threatening Torres and his family several months ago.

Cruz-Lara was in prison with Luna and his alleged co-conspirators on federal drug trafficking charges independent from Luna’s case.

“Mr. Luna said, ‘You know if you testify you know what’s going to happen. And if I can’t get you, I’ll get your family,'” he claimed.

When asked by Assistant District Attorney Jasper Mills, where Luna obtained his drugs from, Cruz-Lara replied, “Supposedly he was receiving some material — I don’t know what kind of drug it was — from Ecuador and his sources had something to do with the family of El Chapo Guzman.”

El Chapo is the infamous leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico. Prosecutors argued that Luna was a high-level heroin trafficker for a group that imported drugs from the Mexico to West Palm Beach, Florida, to Corona, Queens, which eventually made its way to the Buffalo area.

Cruz-Lara further asserted that four months ago he was in the jail church when he overheard Luna talking to another co-defendant, Mayobanex “Company” Rodriquez, that a shipment of drugs arrived from Ecuador concealed in fiberglass plantains that had been sent with real plantains.

Prosecutors launched their case after the July 2013 arrest of Miguel Hermenegildo in Bethlehem, who had a kilo of heroin on him while heading to Buffalo to sell the drugs.

Luna’s attorney, Sam Braverman, asserted that Cruz-Lara was not a credible source and told obvious lies.

“There isn’t a part of that guy that isn’t the definition of the unreliable person,” Braverman stated.

Torres, pleaded guilty and faces 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison, while Beltran, faces 20 years after pleading guilty to first-degree drug possession.

The remaining co-conspirators including Mayobanex “Company” Rodriquez, 43, of West Palm Beach, Fla.; Edwin “Cito” Rivera, 30, of Buffalo; Igor “Cholo” Guerrero, 41, of Manhattan; and Emmanuel Mateo, 37, of the Bronx; and all entered guilty pleas to second-degree conspiracy.

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