Tunnel traffic stop nets $6M cocaine bust: DA

By Adam Pincus

Police discovered the alleged cocaine in a suitcase in the trunk of a car driven by Jose Dones, 36, of Orlando, Fla., who was headed toward Manhattan Sunday, the DA said.At his arraignment Monday in Queens Criminal Court, Judge Steven Paynter ordered him held without bail and set a return date for Jan. 20, a spokeswoman for DA Richard Brown said. “Heightened security at the city's bridges and tunnels in the wake of the World Trade Center terrorist attack has had an added benefit of helping to stop the flow of illegal drugs into our neighborhoods,” Brown said.Dones was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a forged instrument, resisting arrest and traffic violations, according to the criminal complaint.If convicted of all charges, he could be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, the DA spokeswoman said. Law enforcement officials said that at about 2:40 p.m. at the entrance to the tunnel, Triborough Bridge and Tunnel police saw Dones driving a 1996 Dodge Intrepid with an expired and forged temporary New York registration in the windshield of the car. The officers stopped the vehicle and after inspecting an expired insurance card, conducted a search of the vehicle, including the trunk, the DA said.The trunk search turned up the suitcase, the complaint said, which Dones opened to reveal the 38 bricks of cocaine. Police then placed him under arrest, after he resisted briefly, the complaint said. Dones later told police that the suitcase did not belong to him but to the owner of the vehicle, whom he did not know, according to the court documents.Ramon Pagan, an attorney representing Dones, said his client was falsely accused and that police had no authority to search the vehicle.Pagan said police stopped the car after Dones paid the toll and headed to the tunnel entrance. “After paying the toll, without authority or probable cause,” police inspected the car, he said. He added that Dones should not be held without bail.”This is not a capital case,” he said. “He is not a continued danger to the community, so a reasonable bail should have been granted.”Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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