TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that three men were indicted today on a first-degree cocaine possession charge in connection with the seizure by the New Jersey State Police of 21 kilograms of cocaine from a Winnebago recreational vehicle in Jersey City in February.
The Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau obtained a state grand jury indictment charging these three men with first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, second-degree conspiracy, third-degree possession of cocaine, and third-degree money laundering:
- Jorge Avalos, 45, of Edinburg, Texas,
- Luis Hernandez, 41, of Hidalgo, Texas, and
- Francis Bailey, 62, of Moultrie, Georgia.
“By intercepting this shipment, state troopers kept more than $600,000 worth of cocaine off the street and out of the hands of the drug dealers and gang members who wreak havoc in our communities,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “Given the steady correlation between drug dealing and violent crime, this level of interdiction has a real impact on public safety.”
“This was an outstanding bust, which not only took 21 kilos of cocaine off the market, but also put three men in jail who otherwise might still be running drugs from Texas to New Jersey,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will utilize the abundance of evidence seized by the State Police to ensure that these drug traffickers remain behind bars.”
“For every quantity of drugs seized during interdiction operations, we realize that there may be more drugs trafficked in the past or that would be in the future through the same network of people. Therefore, the positive effect of these arrests and indictments resound well beyond the initial takedown,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
Avalos and Hernandez were arrested on Feb. 16, 2013, when the Winnebago RV in which they were traveling was stopped by the New Jersey State Police on Marin Boulevard in Jersey City. Members of the State Police Drug Trafficking North Unit had been conducting surveillance of the Winnebago as part of a drug trafficking investigation. The two men consented to a search of the RV, during which the State Police seized 21 individually wrapped kilogram packages of cocaine and $23,000 in U.S. currency. Bailey was arrested later at a motel room in Secaucus, where troopers seized $16,710 in cash. Bailey allegedly had driven the Winnebago with the cocaine to a motel in North Bergen, where Avalos and Hernandez picked it up from him two days earlier.
Deputy Attorney General Annmarie Taggart presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice. Deputy Attorney General Ray Mateo is assigned to prosecute the case. The investigation was conducted by members of the New Jersey State Police Drug Trafficking North Unit.
The first-degree charge carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $500,000, while the second-degree charge carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison, with a fine of up to $35,000 for the drug charge and a fine of up to $500,000 for the money laundering charge.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr. in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Hudson County.