NEWARK, N.J. – A U.S. Postal Service employee and her boyfriend were charged today in connection with a scheme to allegedly intercept cocaine-laden packages mailed from Puerto Rico to New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Christina Nunez, 30, of Lyndhurst, N.J., a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier in Secaucus, N.J., was charged by Complaint with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of 500 grams or more of cocaine, and mail theft. She was arrested August 24, 2012. Her boyfriend, Luis A. Vega, 36, of Lyndhurst, was also arrested and charged by Complaint with conspiring with Nunez to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of 500 grams or more of cocaine.
Vega made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court. Nunez is expected to make her initial appearance before Judge Dickson tomorrow.
According to the Complaint:
Since December 2010, Nunez has been receiving packages of cocaine that were mailed from Puerto Rico to delivery addresses along her mail route. Nunez intercepted the packages, scanned them as delivered despite never delivering the packages to their actual delivery addresses, and ultimately transported the cocaine to co-conspirators in Camden, N.J.
During the investigation, law enforcement seized more than two kilograms of cocaine. On Feb. 1, 2011, inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service seized 1,569 grams of cocaine from an express mail package that was supposed to be delivered by Nunez. After this seizure, the drug trafficking organization ceased sending packages until December 2011, when once again, packages sent from Puerto Rico were mailed to addresses assigned to Nunez’s mail route.
Another suspicious package was sent from Dorado, Puerto Rico, on August 22, 2012. Once the package arrived in Kearny, N.J., law enforcement noted that the delivery address on the package would be assigned to Nunez’s mail route. The package was later determined to contain approximately 600 grams of cocaine. The cocaine was seized and replaced with a substance similar in appearance to the original contents of the package. The package was placed back into circulation for delivery. On August 24, 2012, Nunez failed to deliver the package to its delivery address. At the end of her shift, Nunez returned to her residence in Lyndhurst, N.J., with the package, and she and Vega were arrested.
In addition to intercepting the cocaine-filled packages on her mail route, both Nunez and Vega received packages of narcotics at her residence and Vega’s former residence. It is estimated that Nunez, Vega and their co-conspirators have distributed more than 18 kilograms of cocaine between October 2010 and August 24, 2012.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited postal inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Postal Inspector in Charge Phillip Bartlett; U.S. Postal Service-Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Rafael Medina; and special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian Crowell, with the investigation leading to the arrests.
The Government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary E. Toscano of the U.S. Attorney’s Criminal Division in Newark, N.J.