Nine people have been convicted in connection to a cocaine trafficking ring that operated between Puerto Rico and New York City and used a Bronx at-home day care as a cover operation.
On Thursday, Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor, announced that nine members of the operation including Juan Valdez, the head of the drug ring, have been convicted of various drug-related offenses.
The Bronx home of Gregorio Hanley, who served as a top manager under Valdez and distributor in the drug ring, also served as a licensed day care facility, Fun World Childcare, where narcotics and cash were concealed inside lunch boxes and packages of diapers, according to the prosecutor. In at least one instance, drugs were hidden inside SpongeBob SquarePants bedding.
During a September 2013 search of the Hanley home and day care center at 1499 Rosedale Ave., authorities seized more than $80,000 worth of drugs from the basement and approximately $15,250 in cash from inside a kitchen cabinet, officials stated.
Valdez was convicted of operating the drug ring since at least 2009, conspiring with others to move cocaine from Puerto Rico via the U.S. Mail and by using couriers who flew frequently between the island territory and New York, according to the special prosecutor. Related to the investigation into Valdez’s organization, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service seized over 50 pounds of cocaine worth $1.4 million.
Hanley was sentenced to seven years in prison for criminal sale of a controlled substance along with lesser concurrent sentences for conspiracy and money laundering, the prosecutor stated. Valdez was sentenced to up to nine years of concurrent sentences for similar convictions.