TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Los Angeles man was convicted at trial yesterday of first-degree conspiracy, narcotics and money laundering charges for his role in a major transcontinental narcotics network that utilized an apartment in Hackensack and a warehouse in Metuchen to conduct its operations. The network was dismantled in 2012 when the New Jersey State Police executed search warrants for a truck and other vehicles at the warehouse in Metuchen and seized 40 kilos of cocaine and over $1 million in cash. The cocaine had a street value of $1LO.4 million or more.
Carlos R. Marroquin, 52, of Los Angeles, was found guilty late yesterday afternoon by a Bergen County jury of two counts of conspiracy (1st and 2nd degree), possession of cocaine with intent to distribute (1st degree), possession of cocaine (3rd degree), and money laundering (1st degree). The verdict followed a one-week trial before Superior Court Judge Joseph S. Conte in Bergen County. The first-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Judge Conte scheduled Marroquin to be sentenced on Aug. 26.
Deputy Attorneys General Philip J. Mogavero and Jacqueline Weyand tried the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. The charges stemmed from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration New York/New Jersey Drug Enforcement Task Force, and the Metuchen Police Department.
Three co-defendants each pleaded guilty in March to first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and second-degree conspiracy to distribute cocaine. They are awaiting sentencing. Cesar E. Perez, 55, of Metuchen, N.J., faces a recommended sentence of 10 years in state prison with three years of parole ineligibility; Divanis A. Mendoza, 36, of New York, N.Y., faces a recommended sentence of 10 years in prison with 30 months of parole ineligibility; and Juan C. Roque, 31, of Los Angeles, Calif., faces a recommended sentence of 10 years in prison with two years of parole ineligibility.
“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 Attorney General Hoffman. “Interstate drug traffickers who think New Jersey is a good place to distribute their wares had better think about the lengthy prison sentence that comes with this verdict.”
“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 Division of Criminal Justice. “This seizure and our successful prosecution were the result of outstanding work. I commend all of the members of the New Jersey State Police, DEA Task Force, Metuchen Police and Division of Criminal Justice who worked on the investigation and trial.”
“By dismantling operations that are this organized and sophisticated, we disrupt the flow of drugs into our communities,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “I commend all involved with the outstanding execution of this investigation and the successful prosecution that led to all of the convictions.”
As a result of the investigation, State Police detectives identified a warehouse at 335 High Street in Metuchen which the four men were allegedly using as a shipping terminal for large loads of narcotics arriving in commercial vehicles. On July 24, 2012, detectives were conducting surveillance and observed a Freightliner tractor enter the warehouse through a bay door, which closed behind the truck. When the Freightliner began to back out of the bay about half an hour later, detectives moved in, identified themselves and secured the site. All four defendants were at the warehouse and were placed under arrest.
The State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice obtained search warrants for the Freightliner and five other vehicles at the location. State Police detectives found 33 bundles of cellophane-wrapped U.S. currency totaling $1,053,500 concealed within a false fuel tank of the Freightliner. They seized 20 kilograms of cocaine from an electronically activated hidden compartment in the rear of a silver Saturn Vue, and an additional 20 kilos of cocaine from a similar compartment in the rear of a black Saturn Vue. The search of a Ford Excursion revealed an empty hidden compartment. Detectives also executed a search warrant at an apartment on Gardner Place in Hackensack that was rented by Perez. There they seized three bundles of U.S. currency totaling $31,400.
Deputy Attorney General Mogavero presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. The investigation was led by the New Jersey State Police Drug Trafficking North Unit. Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration New York/New Jersey Drug Enforcement Task Force and the Metuchen Police Department for their valuable assistance.