Major South Jersey cocaine bust: 5 kilos seized, two Texas men held
Five kilograms of cocaine are seized and two Texas men face potential decades in prison if they're convicted of pushing the powder in South Jersey.
Esquio Salgado, 30, and Crisanto Ramirez, 33, were arrested Tuesday by members of the Atlantic City Task Force and federal agents, according to the office of New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. Authorities estimate the value of the drugs on the streets of Atlantic City to be about $230,000.
Both are charged with first-degree counts of distribution of cocaine and possession with intent to distribute, along with second-degree conspiracy and third-degree possession.
They're lodged in the Burlington County Jail. Bail for Salgado was set at $350,000. Ramirez's bail is $200,000.
Each first-degree charge is punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison on conviction, with fines as high as $500,000.
Second-degree charges carry penalties of five to 10 years in prison and potential $150,000 fines. Third-degree counts carry three-to-five-year sentences and $15,000 fines.
The probe involved the Atlantic City Task Force (ACTF), an amalgam of investigatorsfrom the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ), New Jersey State Police, State Parole Board, Atlantic and Ocean County Prosecutor's Offices, Atlantic County Sheriff's Office, and police departments in Atlantic City, Brigantine, Pleasantville, and Little Egg Harbor.
According to authorities, an operative allied to ACTF alerted the investigators and, allegedly, arranged for a controlled purchase of the full five kilograms on October 18.
Salgado and Ramirez arrived at a predetermined site in a car with Connecticut license plates with the drugs in a duffel bag, authorities said. Investigators moved in when the goods changed hands.
Supporting ACTF are members of the Homeland Security Investigations Unit (HSI) of the federal Department if Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATFE), U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the NJ State Police TEAMS South Unit.
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.