NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The seeds for the alleged drug bust that has alarmed some city residents were planted earlier this month, when cops learned that a man named Yunior Martinez-Jimenez was allegedly selling large amounts of cocaine in New Brunswick, according to a criminal complaint.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations division arrested three people on June 27, in a move that worried some undocumented immigrants and activists, who were concerned that ICE had come to the city to kickstart deportations. It drew a crowd on Tuesday outside 302 Redmond St., as officers from various agencies—including city police and Middlesex County—searched the home.
But what few outside law enforcement knew at that time was that six kilograms of cocaine were allegedly inside one of the house’s bedrooms, according to a criminal complaint.
After Martinez-Jimenez landed on police radar, law enforcement on June 15 “lawfully recorded” the Somerset resident allegedly offering to sell another individual several kilos of coke, according to the complaint.
The deal—for two kilograms—was set to go through less than two weeks later, on June 27, cops alleged. Martinez-Jimenez allegedly agreed to meet the buyer and another individual somewhere on Remsen Avenue in New Brunswick. Martinez-Jimenez drove there around 1:30 p.m. alongside Indhira de los Santos Padilla, a city resident, police alleged.
When they arrived, Martinez-Jimenez allegedly asked the buyer to follow him elsewhere, but the customer refused, police said.
So Martinez-Jimenez and de los Santos Padilla allegedly drove to Redmond Street alone. All the while, according to the complaint, they were being tailed by a “law enforcement aerial unit,” which monitored their every move.
When the pair got to Redmond Street, Palemon Silvestre Sierra allegedly came outside his New Brunswick home, took an empty bag from the car and returned inside, police said. After no more than five minutes, he allegedly emerged with a bag that police claimed “now appeared weighted,” and handed it to Martinez-Jimenez and de los Santos Padilla, who were in the car.
They drove back to Remsen Avenue to meet their buyer, police alleged.
Martinez-Jimenez parked the car, and de los Santos Padilla got out and walked over to the buyer and his partner, the complaint alleged. De los Santos Padilla allegedly handed the bag through the passenger window.
That’s when police jumped into action. Officers converged on each vehicle, quickly arresting de los Santos Padilla, according to the complaint. Martinez-Jimenez, who allegedly tried to drive away, “was apprehend a short distance away,” police claimed.
Cops opened the bag and found what looked like two kilograms of cocaine, they claimed. They conducted a field test on the substance, which confirmed as much, according to the complaint.
After being read his Miranda rights, Martinez-Jimenez allegedly admitted to copping the cocaine from the Redmond Street house earlier that day and on other occasions, the complaint alleged. Afterward, he would run the money back over to the place, police alleged.
So the investigating agents directed him to return the supposed drug proceeds to Sierra, as if nothing had happened, the complaint alleged. An undercover officer accompanied Martinez-Jimenez, according to police.
After the alleged cash delivery, cops arrested Sierra and executed a search warrant on his home, according to the complaint. They allegedly found six kilos of blow in his bedroom, which also passed the field drug test, according to police.
Sierra later admitted to possessing the coke in his bedroom, the complaint alleges.
Federal and local law enforcement officers seized an alleged total of eight kilograms of cocaine in the bust.
They arrested Martinez-Jimenez, de los Santos Padilla and Sierra, who were each charged with one count of conspiring to distribute five or more kilos of the white stuff. The charge, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, carries a minimum of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine.
The three appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven C. Mannion yesterday, June 28, in federal court in Newark.
U.S. Attorney Tazneen Shahbuddin will represent the government in the case. Brian Michael, a special agent in charge with Homeland Security Investigations, was credited with the bust.