While the current conversation on drug smuggling appears to center over the efficacy of a wall, drugs continue to flow through the country through its various points of entry. Recently, an airport baggage handler was convicted of smuggling huge quantities of cocaine through Newark International Airport, with it ultimately being sold in New York City.
Thirty-five-year-old Tyrone Woolaston worked for a commercial airline and was found guilty of smuggling over 5 kilograms of cocaine hidden in suitcases. According to the court records, from 2013 through February of 2018, he abused his secure access to various restricted areas of the airport to smuggle shipments of cocaine into the United States from international flights.
He was caught in February of 2018. Federal investigators set up a sting to catch Mr. Woolaston using a confidential source to arrange a cocaine shipment. A suitcase had arrived from the Cayman islands which contained fake cocaine. He was seen carrying it out of the airport using his secure access so the luggage could avoid having to go through Customs.
He then delivered the suitcase to a confidential source while carrying a gun.
He was convicted on charges of conspiracy and using a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking after a two-week trial in Manhattan. This carries with it a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, up to life in prison.
Law enforcement in New York has been busy with drug busts – earlier this month, about 20,000 fentanyl pills disguised as oxycodone were seized in Manhattan and the Bronx. The blue tablets were stamped with ‘M30’ to make it look like prescription oxycodone, but it was actually fentanyl – far deadlier and involved with half the city’s overdose deaths last year.
The drugs were seized after law enforcement executed a search warrant on a cellphone shop in the Bronx. Suspected trafficker Andrew Reyes-Martinez was scheduled to meet with the store owner, Jesus Garcia. During the search, agents seized 14 bags of the small blue pills, each containing at least a grand’s worth of tables. They also seized two bricks of suspected heroin.
This seizure comes on the heels of an arrest of a kingpin in New York found with 32 kilograms of heroin and fentanyl stashed in homes throughout the Bronx and Yonkers. The stash is alleged to come from the Sinaloa region of Mexico.
Juan Silva Santos and four of his cohorts were indicted after law enforcement seized heroin and fentanyl – a huge haul with a street value of $10 million. DEA agents had seen Santos and his associates going to and from a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx, which they were using as a stash house.
The apartment was searched, where they found several kilos of heroin and fentanyl hidden in the house. Santos was charged with operating as a major trafficker. He has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces a life sentence.