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Puerto Rico man pleads guilty to cocaine charge


BUFFALO -- Joel Torres Diaz, 30, of Puerto Rico, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years and a $5,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul C. Parisi, who is handling the case, stated that on May 12, 2017, the defendant attempted to enter the United States from Canada at the Peace Bridge port of entry. Diaz was referred to a secondary inspection during which Customs and Border Patrol officers observed a shoebox inside a plastic bag on the rear seat of the vehicle. Inside the box, officers recovered three packages of cocaine weighing approximately one kilogram.

The plea is the result of an investigation by Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Rose Brophy and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly.