Andrew Rios, 41, of California, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence today to federal drug trafficking charges in connection with the seizure of 65 kilos of cocaine and more than $1.2 million in cash in North Kingstown in January 2011, the largest cocaine seizure ever in Rhode Island.
The Woonsocket Police Department worked with the DEA and Rhode Island State Police in a joint partnership resulting in the bust.
Rios, appearing before U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and one count of possessing with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.
A Plea Agreement signed by the defendant and the government, and filed with the court, recommends a prison sentence of 204 months in federal prison. Rios is scheduled to be sentenced on January 11, 2013.
Rios’ co-defendants, Rodrigo Armando Saucedo, 33, of California, and Adilson Antonio Reyes, 31, of Utah, previously pleaded guilty in this matter and are detained while awaiting sentencing.
Rios’ guilty plea was announced by Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police; Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin; United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; and Kevin L. Lane, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in New England.
In September 2010, federal, state and local law enforcement agents, working in conjunction with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office, developed information about the trafficking of cocaine from outside Rhode Island into the state, which led investigators to monitor activity at hotels in West Greenwich and Pawtucket, several vehicles and a storage facility in North Kingstown.
In January 2011, the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office secured search warrants which law enforcement agents executed at a storage facility in North Kingstown and two vehicles, and seized 65 kilos of cocaine, $1.2 million in cash and a firearm.
The matter was investigated by the DEA, Rhode Island State Police, and officers from the Warwick, Woonsocket, and East Providence Police Departments.
Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police commented, “I want to praise detectives from the state police, all of the federal agents and members of the DEA task force, including local law enforcement officers from several communities, who worked tirelessly on this case, as well as prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office and the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, who take great pride in taking these purveyors of misery off the streets. Hopefully, this case and the long prison terms these defendants are facing will send the message that law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts are committed to getting drug traffickers off our streets for long periods of time.”
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin added, “The facts of this case should serve to remind everyone that drug trafficking remains a lucrative and dangerous trade, warranting the full attention of law enforcement. Without the work of the State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and their local partners, the 65 kilos of cocaine seized in North Kingstown would have been on the streets of New England, and the $1.2 million in cash seized would no doubt have funded additional criminal activities.” Kilmartin added, “The cooperative efforts of the law enforcement agencies and of the federal and state prosecutors who have worked on this case demonstrate once again that each level of law enforcement – federal, state and local – possesses unique resources that when combined together truly benefit each other, and through that cooperation, the safety of the public.”
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha commented, “Make no mistake: left unchecked, major narcotics trafficking organizations like this one would wreak their havoc in every state, city or town in which there is money to be made. Rhode Island is no exception.” Neronha added, “I want to thank, and commend, Colonel O’Donnell and the Rhode Island State Police and the DEA for their superb work to ensure that these enormous amounts of dangerous drugs never reached our neighborhoods. I also want to thank Attorney General Peter Kilmartin for his partnership in this case, and the state and federal prosecutors who worked so hard to ensure that these drug dealers were brought to justice.”
“DEA and our law enforcement partners are committed to dismantling criminal organizations by arresting and convicting their members and seizing their assets. In this investigation we accomplished both goals,” said Kevin L. Lane, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England. “Any time we seize kilogram quantities of cocaine and over a million of dollars in cash we are disrupting these organizations. We would like to commend the hard work and dedication of our law enforcement partners during this investigation.”
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra R. Hebert and Paul F. Daly, Jr.