Several charged in connection with drug trafficking between Mexico, Springfield

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Several men are facing narcotics and money laundering charges as part of an 14-month investigation into heroin and cocaine trafficking from Mexico to the Springfield area.

According to United States Attorney Andrew Lelling, the investigation spanned at least four states and looked into large-scale drug trafficking organizations with suppliers in Mexico.

The following men are facing the following charges:

  • Miguel Betancourt, 50, of Springfield. Betancourt was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and money laundering conspiracy.
  • Isaac Cardona, 31, of Springfield. Cardona was charged with conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, conspiring to traffic at least one kilogram of heroin, and money laundering conspiracy.
  • Rafael Cardona Sr., 58, of Springfield. Cardona Sr. was charged with conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and conspiring to traffic at least one kilogram of heroin.
  • Carlos Mares Jr., 39, of Springfield. Mares was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
  •  Victor Hugo Gonzalez, 27, of Perris, CA. Gonzalez was charged with conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and money laundering conspiracy.
  • Jose Martinez, 32, of Lehigh Acres, FL. Martinez was charged with conspiring to traffic at least one kilogram of heroin and money laundering conspiracy.
  • Lorenzo Deconinck, 59, of Jamaica, VT. Deconinck was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
  • Juan Ramos, 37, of Wardsboro, VT. Ramos was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.

Bentancourt, Cardona Sr., Cardona, Mares, Deconinck, and Ramos were arrested and arraigned in federal court in Springfield on Wednesday. Gonzalez was arrested and went to court in Irvine, California, in October 2017. Lelling said he failed to attend his arraignment in Springfield in November 2017, however, and is currently a fugitive.

David Cruz, 40, of Westfield was also arrested as a co-conspirator in September 2016. Cruz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug offense, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Cruz’s sentencing is scheduled on June 6.

According to court documents, Bentancourt, Cardonas, Cardonas Sr., Gonzalez, and Martinez allegedly plotted to take cocaine and heroin from Mexico, through California, and into the Springfield and New England areas. The plan allegedly involved 32 kilograms of cocaine and at least one kilogram of pure fentanyl.

Cruz allegedly began receiving shipments of cocaine from Mexican sources in the summer of 2015. It is alleged that Cruz distributed some of the cocaine to Bentancourt, leaving him with a large debt. Lelling said court documents further alleged that Bentancourt used his Enfield, Connecticut, used-car dealership State Line Auto Sales LLC to give two vehicles to Cruz and register them in Massachusetts under a different name.

The Springfield resident is also accused of using a bank account held in the name of his dealership to wire $9,500 of Cruz’s drug money to a bank account in Mexico.

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