Federal authorities release cartel smugglers with $1.2 million worth of meth under bail laws

Two suspected smugglers from the Mexican drug cartel have been arrested with a stash of $1.2 million worth of crystal meth – but had to be released thanks to New York’s lax bail laws, authorities said on Monday.

Two California men, Luis Estrada and Carlos Santos, were allegedly caught in the act by the US Drug Enforcement Administration as part of a multi-agency investigation. But frustrated agents had to watch as the suspects were released on a supervised release, the federal agency said.

That’s because under the state’s outdated drug laws, the two men could only be charged with second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, authorities said. And the rap doesn’t qualify for bail under the Empire State’s 2019 criminal justice reform measures, they said.

“This is a serious issue,” New York City Special Narcotics Attorney Bridget Brennan told The Post.

“The failure to include methamphetamine-related crimes in the bail-eligible offenses was likely an oversight.

Zoom on one of the pockets.
Luis Estrada and Carlos Santos have been released from prison on supervised release because New York does not count methamphetamine crimes as a bailable crime.
Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York

“When the bail laws were changed, New York City was not a methamphetamine distribution center. Now it is, and we can’t even ask for bail even if we arrest someone who has no connection with the city and has a load worth millions of dollars,” Brennan said.

“I hope that when lawmakers are better informed they will make a change,” she added.

Authorities said Estrada, 19, and Santos, 34, were snapped with 165 pounds of crystal meth while trying to do two drop-offs.

Special Narcotics Attorney Bridget G. Brennan, of the City of New York, speaks at One Police Plaza in Manhattan on July 23, 2019.
“This is a serious issue,” said Bridget Brennan, the Special Narcotics prosecutor.
Richard Harnus

According to the criminal complaint, Estrada was arrested just before 10 a.m. on July 5 near the South Street Seaport in Manhattan while towing a suitcase containing 40 pounds of the drug.

Authorities say Santos was arrested on July 8 in Inwood, Manhattan, with 100 pounds of crystal meth and a small amount of cocaine.

But both men were charged within a day in Manhattan Criminal Court last week – and released on supervised release.

Meth was hidden in metal containers.
Estrada and Santos were snapped trying to make two drop offs.
Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York

“Under current New York state law, none of the men may be charged with a bail-eligible felony,” said a joint statement from Brennan’s office, the DEA and the Nassau County Attorney’s Office.

“Methamphetamine is classified as a controlled substance, but not as a narcotic. Regardless of the amount of methamphetamine involved, and regardless of a defendant’s lack of ties to New York State, current law does not allow judges to issue bail in cases involving only possession of methamphetamine.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino noted in the press release that “methamphetamine is widely used across the country, causing addiction, overdoses and poisoning.

The meth is laid out on a table.
Brennan said New York has become a “distribution center for methamphetamine” since the bail laws were changed.
Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York

“This year, the DEA found that methamphetamine seizures in New York have increased 1,300% since 2021, suggesting that New York is a bull’s eye for traffickers.

“This seizure is a calculated treason by Mexican cartels to flood the United States with their poison and expand their customer base while encouraging addiction and increasing profit margins,” he added.

https://nypost.com/2022/07/11/feds-release-cartel-smugglers-with-1-2m-meth-due-to-bail-laws/ Federal authorities release cartel smugglers with $1.2 million worth of meth under bail laws


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