A trio of alleged criminals were in for a rude awakening on Valentine’s Day when police caught them trying to transport close to $3 million of cocaine from Texas into New York City.
Augustina Masea-Baez, 51, of Queens and Texas residents Felipe Estacio-Ortiz, 63, and Jose Luis Ortiz-Garcia, 44, were arraigned on Tuesday in Queens Criminal Court on charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy, according to authorities. Baez was also charged in a separate complaint with criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminally using drug paraphernalia.
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According to prosecutors, on Feb. 14 at about 6:15 p.m. a white Nissan Armada — which was being driven by Estacio-Ortiz — was stopped by police at the intersection of 97th Avenue and 75th Street in Queens. Ortiz-Garcia was in the front passenger seat and the two men allegedly had driven from Texas to Queens.
The SUV was taken to the 115th Precinct in Jackson Heights where police executed a court-ordered search warrant the next day, authorities said. Police recovered six packages wrapped in electrical tape hidden inside the spare tire of the rear of the vehicle.
The packages contained 26 pounds of cocaine, which has an estimated street value of $2,940,000, prosecutors said.
Queens resident Masea-Baez, was seen on Feb. 14 entering and exiting a home on 97th Avenue in Jamaica carrying a bag on her shoulder, authorities said. Police approached the 51-year-old and recovered a small amount of cocaine in the handbag along with a scale and $3,398 in cash.
The next day police executed a search warrant on the Queens home and found two plastic twists containing cocaine, three plastic twists containing heroin, and two digital scales from the inside of a closet, prosecutors said.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, the accused allegedly were planning to sell the drugs in Queens and other parts of New York City.
“Drug dealers should be forewarned — Queens is not the place to import illegal narcotics or to sell them. The three individuals charged are facing considerable time behind bars if convicted,” Brown said.
If convicted, they each face up to 20 years in prison.
This bust comes less than a month after authorities busted two men in Elmhurst attempting to transport about $14 million of heroin hidden in vehicle parts of a pick-up truck.