ROSELLE/LINDEN, NJ – An escape attempt by two New York men carrying five kilograms of cocaine was thwarted January 20 by a Warinaco Park tree that refused to budge, said authorities.

The Chevy Suburban being piloted by Ernesto Cesar was in bad shape even before it slammed into the tree, said Union County Prosecutor Grace Park. She said Cesar, 25, of Yonkers, blew out one of the big SUV’s tires when he jumped a curb to veer around police cars that tried to block his path.

Accompanied by Ariel Jazmin, of Manhattan, Cesar barreled into Warinaco Park with police in pursuit, said the prosecutor. This effort ended when the Suburban slammed into the tree, she said, noting that Jazmin then tried to run from the scene but was quickly apprehended.

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Cesar, 25, and Jazmin, 27, were targeted by a narcotics investigation in Linden, said Park. She said detectives were led to the area of Alberta Avenue where they found Jazmin and Cesar in the Suburban  at about 11 p.m.

When detectives approached, Cesar sped from the scene, veering around several police vehicles and continuing onto a sidewalk and back onto the street, a move that blew out the tire, said Park.

After being arrested, Cesar and Jazmin were treated for minor injuries at Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth and were then placed in Union County Jail, said the prosecutor.

She said both were charged with first-degree possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute, second-degree possession with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public park, and a related third-degree drug offense. Cesar was also charged with second-degree eluding police and Jazmin was charged with third-degree resisting arrest, said Park. 

State Superior Court Judge Scott Moynihan set bail for Cesar at $1 million and bail for Jazmin at $1.5 million, said Park. 

The prosecutor noted first-degree crimes are punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison, while second-degree crimes can result in five to 10 years behind bars.

Park said the probe that led to the arrests was spearheaded by her office’s Guns, Gangs, Drugs, and Violent Crimes Task Force with help from the Linden Police Department.