YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A judge in Hackensack today sentenced a California truck driver to 32 years in state prison for transporting 40 kilos of cocaine cross country to a New Jersey warehouse in exchange for more than $1 million in cash.
Carlos Marroquin, 52, must serve at least half of that term before being eligible for parole, under the sentence handed down by Superior Court Judge Joseph Conte.
“Major narcotics suppliers like Marroquin bear direct responsibility for all of the street-level dealing, violence and drug abuse associated with the illicit product they distribute,” said acting state Attorney General John J. Hoffman.
The Jurors needed less than three hours in July to find Marroquin guilty on all five counts against him.
The “Costco-style bulk of drugs,” as one prosecutor called it, was prominently featured during the trial — wrapped in eight packages of five bricks each, stacked and covered in brown paper. One stack of bricks was unwrapped so that jurors could see the five individual packages within.
State Police investigators rushed into a Metuchen warehouse where the July 24, 2012 deal went down and recovered the cocaine, as well as the cash, which was found stuffed into a trap in the gas tank of a tractor-trailer.
Investigators seized 20 kilos of cocaine from an electronically activated hidden compartment in the rear of a silver Saturn Vue, and an additional 20 kilos from a similar compartment in the rear of a black Saturn Vue.
Authorities first become aware of the network because of what they called “unusual” activity at a Hackensack apartment being used as an East Coast base of operations.
Marroquin and a man who drove cross-country with him, Juan C. Roque, were under surveillance along the route from Hackensack to Middlesex County, they said.
Roque and two co-conspirators, Cesar E. Perez of the Bronx and Divanos A. Mendoza, all pleaded guilty and testified against Marroquin during his trial.
In turn, all three received 10-year prison terms with varying parole eligibility: Perez must serve at least 36 months, Mendoza 30 months and Roque 24 months. Having been behind bars just about two years, Roque could be freed and the others released within a year once they’re sentenced.
“It’s not by chance that you nab four drug traffickers, 40 kilos of cocaine and over $1 million in cash all in one fell swoop,” said Director Elie Honig of the state Division of Criminal Justice. “This seizure and our successful prosecution were the result of outstanding work.”
“By dismantling operations that are this organized and sophisticated, we disrupt the flow of drugs into our communities,” said Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy Attorneys general Jacqueline Weyand, Philip Mogavero and Vincent Militello. Weyand took the lead in the prosecution.
Jurors convicted Marroquin of:
- conspiracy to commit money laundering;
- conspiracy to distribute a weight of cocaine in excess of five ounces;
- possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute it;
- money laundering, for transporting property in excess of $500,000 derived from criminal activity;
- money laundering, for transporting more than $75,000 derived from criminal activity.
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