California drug, cash smuggler given up to 12 years in NJ prison
A California drug trafficker, who admitted moving massive amounts of cocaine and cash across the country and through New Jersey in big rigs, is sentenced to 12 years in a state prison.
Belarmino Amaya, 58, has four years of parole ineligibility, according to the office of New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. He was sentenced in Middlesex County.
Amaya pleaded guilty to charges of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and of money laundering. His 10-year sentence and three-and-a-third years of parole ineligibility for the money laundering count run concurrently to the larger sentence.
Amaya was arrested in December 2014, by federal agents of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (NYDETF) who trailed the 18-wheeler he was driving from Route 78 to a motel in Little Ferry. Authorities said that he admitted carting the powder, and that investigators found 21 kilograms of it inside, stuffed under tee shirts.
Almost five years earlier, in January 2009, Amaya was arrested with another Californian, Carlos Mario Mejia, at the Edison toll plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike. where state troopers searching Mejia's tractor-trailer seized $1,200,000 cash, authorities said.
State police, matching the branding on Mejia's trailer to that of a firm involved in a previous money-laundering probe, began tracking the vehicle at a Kearny truck stop the day before the arrest. They followed it to a Newark truck stop, then north on Route 1&9 to the Turnpike.
Mejia was sentenced to 10 years in 2012 for his guilty plea to a money-laundering charge.