NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – On Wednesday, a federal jury convicted two individuals on charges relating to drug trafficking and money laundering.
“As the evidence at trial showed, the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to launder the proceeds of their drug trafficking crimes on behalf of a network of conspirators that peddled illegal and potent substances from Puerto Rico into the Hampton Roads area,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Our Office is grateful to the trial team and our law enforcement partners for their thorough investigative efforts, which helped secure the guilty verdicts in this case.”
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, beginning in or about 2018 through in or about 2020, Jose Luis Cruz-Colon, 42, and Nastassja Lopez-Alvarado, 31, both originally from Puerto Rico but living in Suffolk, were responsible for importing kilogram quantities of cocaine into the Hampton Roads area for distribution and then sending the proceeds of those illegal sales back to Puerto Rico to further the drug trafficking conspiracy. Their participation in the conspiracy came to light as part of a larger investigation into the criminal activities of the Rivera Drug Trafficking Organization in the Hampton Roads area.
Through court-authorized wiretap interceptions, parcel interdictions, and other investigative work, agents were able to conduct controlled purchases of heroin and seize at least three kilograms of cocaine. Further, on December 12, 2020, Cruz-Colon and Lopez-Alvarado were stopped at the Richmond International Airport and were prevented from taking approximately $28,000 in U.S. currency in a vacuum-sealed bag from the Hampton Roads area to Puerto Rico.
Cruz-Colon was convicted of conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least five kilograms or more of cocaine and at least one kilogram or more of heroin. Lopez-Alvarado was convicted of conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least five kilograms or more of cocaine. Cruz-Colon and Lopez-Alvarado each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison with a maximum possible penalty of life in prison when sentenced on February 2, 2022. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Division; Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Norfolk Field Office; Daniel A. Adame, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Kenneth Mark Talbot, Chief of Hampton Police; and Larry D. Boone, Chief of Norfolk Police, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge David J. Novak accepted the verdict.
The Richmond International Airport Police provided significant assistance in this investigation. This case was investigated by the DEA Norfolk Office in conjunction with the Norfolk Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric Hurt and Julie Podlesni are prosecuting the case.
This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:20-cr-69.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Eastern District of Virginia