First row: Luis Ocampo, Jose Guadalupe Solorzano and Luis Maldonado. Second row: Eduardo Avalos, Sandra Valdez and Mercedes Manjarrez-Torres. (submitted)
La Santa Muerte shrine (submitted)
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -
The state attorney general's office filed charges Wednesday against six suspected cocaine dealers who allegedly took part in a $4.8 million cocaine trafficking ring.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane said the ring trafficked bulk quantities of cocaine from Mexico to York County through Federal Express packages.
Kane said a grand jury recommended the charges and identified the ring leader as 52-year-old Luis Ocampo, of York.
Ocampo had a close network of at least three people who collectively were capable of distributing between three and four kilos of cocaine a month between Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey, the grand jury found.
Prosecutors said one package - shipped to Ocampo from Mexico - was intercepted by federal agents in Tennessee and contained a decorative lighted garden stone with a kilo of cocaine concealed inside. The cocaine, the garden stone and other evidence was later seized during a search of Ocampo's West Market Street apartment.
Kane said that over the course of the investigation, agents seized more than 1,700 grams of cocaine, approximately $26,000 in cash, five vehicles and a number of "La Santa Muerte" statues.
According to prosecutors, La Santa Muerte - or Death
Saint - has become a patron of the Mexican drug
community. The shrines
typically include money, lines of cocaine, or blood that are given as
sacrifices to the saint for protection from law enforcement and from other drug cartel members.
Kane said the statues were displayed as a shrine in the home of another defendant, identified as 35-year-old Jose Guadalupe Solorzano, of Hanover.
Ocampo was charged with eight counts of delivery of cocaine, one count of possession with the intent to deliver cocaine, one count of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity and one count of criminal conspiracy.
Solorzano was charged with two counts of delivery of cocaine, one count of
possession with the intent to deliver cocaine and one count of criminal
The other defendants were identified and charged as follows:
- Luis Maldonado, 35, of Harrisburg, was charged with two counts of delivery of cocaine and one count of possession with the intent to deliver cocaine;
- Eduardo Avalos, 23, of York, was charged with five counts of delivery of cocaine and one count of criminal conspiracy;
- Sandra Valdez, 20, of York, was charged with one count of possession with the intent to deliver cocaine and one count of criminal conspiracy; and
- Mercedes Manjarrez-Torres, 39, of Hanover, was charged with two counts of delivery of cocaine and one count of criminal conspiracy.