BUFFALO - Two Connecticut men, charged with drug trafficking, pleaded guilty Friday - more than two years after a Chautauqua County Sheriff's deputy stopped them in Ellicott for speeding.
According to the United States Attorney's Office in the Western District of New York, Nelson Areizaga-Rosa, 37, and Ricardo Ortiz-Rosa, 41, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess, with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, an $8 million fine, or both.
On March 17, 2011, Areizaga-Rosa and Ortiz-Rosa - cousins - were stopped for speeding by a Chautauqua County Sheriff's deputy on Interstate 86 in Ellicott.
Further investigation revealed that $60,000 in U.S. currency was hidden in the spare tire of the defendants' vehicle - allegedly proceeds from the sale of 2 kilograms of cocaine.
Police also seized more than a kilogram of heroin, a quantity of cocaine and multiple firearms. An additional six defendants were charged.
In a related investigation, officers executed a search warrant at a residence in Ohio, where they recovered $205,000 in U.S. currency. Five vehicles were seized.
According to the Attorney's Office, the defendants are likely to receive 15 years in prison when sentenced on April 1, 2014.
Local agencies that participated in this investigation included the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force, under the direction of Chautauqua County Sheriff's Lieutenant David Bentley; the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department, under the direction of Sheriff Joseph Gerace and the Jamestown Police Department, under the direction of Harry Snellings.