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New York City cocaine kingpin sentenced to 20 years in federal lockup

February 4, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
New York City cocaine kingpin sentenced to 20 years in federal lockup

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A New York City cocaine kingpin who sold a ton of cocaine throughout the tri-state area was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

Luis Bello, from the Bronx, managed a large-scale drug operation for two years that brought drugs from Puerto Rico and distributed them across the New York area.

According to a Justice Department press release, the 34-year-old had pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court to charges of conspiracy to distribute over five kilos of cocaine, conspiracy to launder money, and the trafficking of firearms.

He was among ten members of the drug organization — which included a former mail carrier from New Jersey who helped move the drugs — to plead guilty under an indictment stemming from 2013.

“Today’s 20 year sentencing of Bello rids our community of the leader of a dangerous trafficking and money laundering organization with ties to the Caribbean, that flooded the streets of New York with cocaine,” Angel M. Melendez, the special agent in charge in New York for Homeland Security said in a statement.

Using both U.S. mail and drug couriers, Bello and his co-conspirators sent over 1,000 kilos of cocaine — which is more than 2,200 pounds — from Puerto Rico to the Bronx between 2011 until his arrest in 2013.

Members of the drug gang often shipped the cocaine to post office boxes in New York and New Jersey, along with the Highbridge post office in the Bronx. A mail carrier, Jermaine Sandifer, picked up boxes of drugs addressed to places along his route and took them to Bello.

Prosecutors revealed that Bello and his associates took the cash from their drug sales to banks and traded small bills for larger ones. The drug crew then sent the money to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, concealing the money in pockets and soap bottles.

The enterprise was lucrative — detectives discovered $58,000 in cash exchanges in one month in 2011 through a single account in Bello’s name.

The New York City cocaine kingpin is to serve a sentence of 20 years behind bars followed by five years of supervised release, which is the most strict among his co-conspirators so far.

Bello’s attorney, Alexei Schacht, said the sentence is “disproportionately long,” given “the facts and circumstances in the case. We believed a sentence of ten years would have been more appropriate.”

Sandifer, the carrier, was sentenced to five years for distributing at least 150 kilos of cocaine. Joel Aguilar of Manhattan will serve six years for transporting the same amount.

Bello’s cousin, Carlos Bello Tirado, was sentenced to four years, and Ernest Pena, was sentenced to time already served for distributing 85 kilos of cocaine.

Four additional people from the Bronx and one from Newark, New Jersey are still awaiting sentencing.

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