Feds: Daycare centers provided cover for drug operation - KMSP-TV

Feds: Daycare centers provided cover for drug operation

Posted: Updated:
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Prosecutors say a sophisticated drug trafficking ring smuggled cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York City using daycare centers as cover.

Two Bronx daycare centers were searched as part of the investigation.

Juan Valdez was arrested at a Bronx home on Thursday. Federal authorities say he was the ring leader of the operation. He was charged with conspiracy, drug possession, weapons, money laundering and other crimes.

Prosecutors say the East 184th Street home houses a daycare center called Sweet Home.

Also arrested were Juan Bernal and Ada Padilla.

Detectives had previously searched the Bronx residence of Gregorio Hanley and his wife, Johanna Vasquez. Their home housed the Fun World Childcare center. Investigators say that Fun World Childcare served as a cover for the drug organization and drug sales even took place at that location.

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said, "Day care centers are considered safe houses not stash houses."

Prosecutors say that a wiretap revealed that Valdez oversaw the day-to-day activities of the operation with assistance from Bernal and Hanley.

It is alleged that Valdez used couriers who flew from JFK to San Juan, carrying suitcases full of cash to pay for drugs. Bernal, a professional livery cab driver, is alleged to have coordinated shipments of cocaine, drove couriers to and from the airport, and transported drugs and drug money.

Prosecutors say packages of cocaine were sent via the U.S. Postal Service and the drugs were sometimes concealed in items designed for children. One package of cocaine was allegedly wrapped in SpongeBob SquarePants bedding.

Approximately 300 grams of cocaine was also found inside a child's insulated lunch bag hidden in a refrigerator.

"This organization reached an all-time low by using a day care center as a front to conceal their thriving drug dealing enterprise," said Special Agent James Hayes, Jr. "The arrests today serve to make New York City safer for everyone."

Since 2009, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service says it has seized packages containing more than 50 pounds of cocaine (worth $1.4M) linked to the operation.

Valdez, Bernal and Padilla were to be arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court.

  • Bronx NewsBronx NewsMore>>

  • NYC subway report card

    NYC subway report card

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 5:09 PM EDT2014-07-30 21:09:16 GMT
    "A mixed bag": That's how the Straphangers Campaign characterizes New York City subways; some good parts and some bad. For example, the C train breaks down most often, not surprising since the line has 50-year-old cars. But C trains were also the cleanest in the transit system.Straphangers said the worst subway trains were the IRT's No. 2.
    "A mixed bag": That's how the Straphangers Campaign characterizes New York City subways; some good parts and some bad. For example, the C train breaks down most often, not surprising since the line has 50-year-old cars. But C trains were also the cleanest in the transit system.Straphangers said the worst subway trains were the IRT's No. 2.
  • 5 annoying things about the New York City subway

    5 annoying things about the New York City subway

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 1:07 PM EDT2014-07-30 17:07:01 GMT
    Subway problems are annoying, but it’s just a part of living in New York City. Public transportation isn’t glamorous. It’s a pain. It’s a convenience that can cause an inconvenience. Here is a list of five annoying things about subways in New York City.
    Subway problems are annoying, but it’s just a part of living in New York City. Public transportation isn’t glamorous. It’s a pain. It’s a convenience that can cause an inconvenience. Here is a list of five annoying things about subways in New York City.
  • TSA contest calls for ideas to improve airline security lines

    TSA contest calls for ideas to improve airline security lines

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:11 AM EDT2014-07-30 12:11:07 GMT
    Everyone hates long lines at security checkpoints and the TSA knows it. Now the TSA is sponsoring a contest to encourage anyone with new ideas about how to make the airport security lines go faster. Often for air travelers, the security checkpoint experience is the worst part of their trip. That's why the TSA turned to the crowdsourcing site Innocentive asking for ideas pledging a total of $15,000 in prize money, with at least one $5,000 award.
    Everyone hates long lines at security checkpoints and the TSA knows it. Now the TSA is sponsoring a contest to encourage anyone with new ideas about how to make the airport security lines go faster. Often for air travelers, the security checkpoint experience is the worst part of their trip. That's why the TSA turned to the crowdsourcing site Innocentive asking for ideas pledging a total of $15,000 in prize money, with at least one $5,000 award.
Powered by WorldNow

KMSP-TV
11358 Viking Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Phone: (952) 944-9999
Fax: (952) 942-0455

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices