By Tom Nicholson
Police from the 104th Precinct charged Teresa Buetrago, 56, and Francisco Echeverry, 41, with two counts each of criminal possession of a controlled substance after officers discovered 19 kilos of cocaine in the couple's apartment, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Queens DA.
After being tipped off by neighbors about possible drug dealing in their apartment building, police launched an undercover probe last year that provided information the couple allegedly was selling cocaine, the complaint said.
Police executed a search warrant Friday and raided the couple's apartment at 47-05 48th St. at about 7 p.m. where they seized bags of cocaine and $7,776, according to the complaint. The couple was present during the police search.
Police said the cocaine found in the apartment has a street value of about $2 million.
The complaint said police who searched the couple's apartment found one kilo of cocaine in a Ziploc bag that was stashed in a large lock box in the bedroom of the apartment, one kilo of cocaine hidden inside a clothes hamper in the bedroom, and 17 kilos of cocaine wrapped in plastic in another bedroom.
Buetrago, a nurse who worked at a senior citizens facility in Manhattan, and Echeverry, a self-employed painter, were allegedly selling the cocaine to customers in nearby apartment buildings in the Sunnyside neighborhood, the DA said. The couple were not married, but were common-law spouses
Police said the defendants used young men within the apartments to distribute the drugs to customers.
The defendants, who face up to 25 years in prison if convicted, were arraigned by State Supreme Court Judge Suzanne Melendez on Jan. 16. Their next court date will be Wednesday. Both defendants are being held without bail, the DA said.
Reach Reporter Tom Nicholson by e-mail at email@example.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext 157.