Police & Fire

$500,000 Cocaine Bust Leads to Guilty Plea in Somerville Courtroom


SOMERVILLE, NJ – A New Brunswick man has pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and eluding capture after a 2015 car chase in which police seized 5 ounces of cocaine with a street value of $500,000 from the back seat of his car.

Elvin Guzman-Rodriguez, a.k.a. Joel Matos Santiago, 38, of Sanford Street, New Brunswick pleaded guilty to first-degree possession of five ounces or more of cocaine with intent to distribute and second-degree eluding last Friday before Superior Court Judge Kathy C. Qasim in the County Courthouse in Somerville.

In exchange for his guilty plea, the state recommended a sentence of 11 years in the New Jersey State Prison with 40 months of parole ineligibility.  Matos Santiago is scheduled to be sentenced March 31.

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Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson provided the following account of the investigation and subsequent arrests:

On Oct. 8, 2015 the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Organized Crime and Narcotics Task Force was tipped that a parcel containing CDS would be delivered to a North Dover Avenue residence in Franklin Township.

Task Force Detectives, along with U.S. Postal Inspection Officers intercepted two packages at the Franklin Township Post Office addressed to a Jessica Rodriguez, living on Dover Avenue in Franklin Township. The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office K-9 “Apex” and his handler were called to the post office where the dog  sniffed the packages and gave a positive indication for CDS in both packages.

Detectives went to the Dover Avenue resident to set up surveillance. At approximately 3:30 p.m. Victor M. Santana-Ricardo and Joel Matos Santiago were seen outside the residence when the postal officer arrived to deliver the packages.

Matos Santiago drove off in a black Acura TSX.

Santana-Ricardo told the postal officer that he was the husband of Jessica Rodriquez and asked him to put the packages on the front steps of the residence. The surveillance team saw Santiago-Ricardo on his cell phone and watched as Matos Santiago returned in the Acura.

After retrieving the packages and placing them in the rear seat area of the Acura, Matos Santiago drove off on Dover Avenue towards Hamilton Street at a high rate of speed.

Task Force Detectives tried to stop Matos Santiago; a chase ensued and ended when he struck a police car on Park Street. Matos Santiago was taken from the car and arrested.

Detectives obtained a Superior Court Search Warrant for the Acura TSX. A search of the vehicle resulted in the seizure of two packages in the rear seat containing 5 kilograms of cocaine.

 Santana-Ricardo was arrested at the Dover Avenue residence without incident.

 Jessica Rodriguez was arrested without incident at 5:30 p.m. when she arrived home.      


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