By Alex Robinson
Police arrested a Briarwood man last week who they alleged was the ringleader in a citywide drug smuggling operation.
Carlos Medina, 59, was charged with conspiring to smuggle and distribute large amounts of cocaine and heroin in New York City and Connecticut, city Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said.
“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the investigators in this case, Carlos Medina and his associates will no longer be able to distribute illegal drugs on the streets of New York City,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said.
A yearlong wiretap investigation dubbed Operation Rebound revealed Medina and 10 others were smuggling drugs into the country from Puerto Rico, Brennan’s office said.
Two of Medina’s girlfriends were among those charged, according to a law enforcement source. Police believe Medina had relationships with both Socorro Vivas, 56, and Sonia Rivera, 46, who were listed as defendants in the indictment, filed by Brennan’s office. He is married, said the source, but his wife was not among the people charged in the case.
Prosecutors alleged Medina, who owns a watch store in Manhattan and recently moved to Yonkers, N.Y., routinely drove a route from his then-home in Briarwood to the Bronx, Manhattan and then back again to pick up drugs and money.
Medina allegedly sold cocaine to an undercover cop on more than one occasion in December and tried to convince the same police officer to sell heroin for him in a January meeting, prosecutors said.
Wiretaps also revealed Medina allegedly ordered a co-conspirator to threaten an individual in Connecticut who owed him $19,000, according to the indictment. Medina told his co-conspirator to “go to this person’s house, his girl’s house and his aunt’s house, and tell them that if this person doesn’t pay he’s going to have problems,” the indictment said.
“This case marks the end of a large-scale drug organization that was attempting to expand through intimidation,” Brennan said.
NYPD officers and members of the DEA seized $40,000 in cash and a drug ledger from Medina’s home when they arrested him Jan. 16, Brennan said. The search of a suspected stash house in the Bronx revealed two loaded guns, seven pounds of cocaine and more than a pound of heroin, Brennan said.
Police also said they intercepted almost 13 pounds of cocaine, which has a street value of at least $300,000, in the mail in November. The wiretap investigation led police to the interception of the cocaine, which had been sent from Puerto Rico to Medina’s alleged drug ring, the indictment said.
Prosecutors are also expected to file additional charges against Medina for parole violations. He was on parole for a 1986 conviction on federal conspiracy, drug and firearm charges, for which he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
If convicted, Medina faces a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.