Trying to get a leg up on the competition.
Four people face federal charges after officials say they used hollowed-out furniture to ship nearly $150 million in drugs across the U.S.
Federal prosecutors announced charges last week against Pedro Guzman Martinez, Abel Montilla, Jorge Miranda-Sang and Luis Gomez Ortiz. They were each charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute narcotics.
They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors say the four men were part of a drug trafficking operation that moved cocaine from Puerto Rico into the U.S. The cocaine was concealed in custom furniture.
Shipping documents listed the items as furniture, but they were actually hollowed-out and concealed hundreds of kilograms of drugs, prosecutors noted.
In total, the scheme moved 4,500 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of $144 million, according to prosecutors.
Guzman Martinez was responsible for delivering the hollowed-out furniture, prosecutors said. Miranda-Sang and Gomez Ortiz hired people in the U.S. to sign for the shipments and Montilla helped coordinate the deliveries.
“These defendants allegedly hid nearly five tons of cocaine in furniture so they could ship it from Puerto Rico to New York City and elsewhere. As alleged, for a time, the defendants were able to hide their cocaine, but they were unable to hide the scheme from our law enforcement partners. We will continue to focus on prosecuting large-scale traffickers of illegal drugs,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strausssaid in announcing the arrests.