NEWARK, N.J. – A Dominican national was extradited to the United States over the weekend for his alleged role in a drug trafficking organization responsible for over 16 kilograms of heroin that were seized in New Jersey and New York, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Wellington Luna De La Cruz, a/k/a “Orlando Luna Cruz,” a/k/a “Luis Echevarria,” a/k/a “El Mofle,” 40, is charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin and one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin. De La Cruz appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer in Newark federal court and was detained.
According to documents filed in this and related cases, since January 2015, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been investigating a drug trafficking organization (DTO) operating in New Jersey, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and elsewhere. The investigation revealed that De La Cruz is an alleged narcotics trafficker and high-ranking member of the DTO.
The narcotics were brought in from Mexico and transported by truck to the New Jersey and New York areas. De La Cruz allegedly instructed certain DTO members to receive the shipments, deliver payment to the truck drivers or other suppliers, and then distribute specified amounts of narcotics to other members of the DTO.
The DTO has been linked to several multiple-kilogram seizures of heroin, including 10 kilograms of heroin seized in Elizabeth, in January 2017.
If convicted, De La Cruz faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and a fine of $10 million per count.
This case is being conducted under the direction of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.