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Wrong turn leads to drug charges for two men

STAFF REPORTS


BUFFALO -- Jose Miguel Cedeno-Olivencia, 44, and Pablo Diaz-Pena, 28, with ties to both New Jersey and  Puerto Rico, were arrested and charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The charges carry a minimum penalty of five years, a maximum penalty of life, and a $5 million fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott S. Allen, Jr., who is handling the case, stated that on April 1, 2018, at approximately 3:45 a.m., the defendants took a wrong turn on the Peace Bridge and were directed back to the United States by Canadian border officials.  Upon return, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers referred the vehicle to secondary inspection, where officers found a plastic Tupperware container between the rear seat and a subwoofer containing over a kilogram of cocaine powder, as well as $5,112.00 cash.  The defendants claimed to be driving from New Jersey on vacation.  Cedeno-Olivencia has a prior federal felony conviction for controlled substance distribution.

The defendants made an initial appearance on April 2, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy. The defendants are being held pending a detention hearing.

The criminal complaint is the result of an investigation by the United States Department of Homeland Security, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Kevin Kelly, Special Agent-in-Charge; and Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Rose Brophy, Director of Field Operations.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.