Defendants Charged with Possessing and Selling Cocaine
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler, on Thursday, August 19, 2021, announced the arrest of several individuals in connection with a long-term drug sale and possession operation. On August 18, 2021, the New York State Police Violent Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team (VGNET), in conjunction with the Connecticut State Police, the Connecticut State’s Attorney Office, and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, conducted an enforcement action, dubbed “Operation Off the Brick,” involving the trafficking of cocaine in Orange County and Connecticut. Search warrants were executed at several locations: the Village of Otisville, the City of Middletown, the Town of Blooming Grove, and the Ulster County Hamlet of Kerhonksen. In addition, the Connecticut State Police executed search warrants on August 5, 2021, and August 18, 2021.
Antonio Perez-Molina, 39, of Otisville, was arrested and charged with the Class A-I felonies of Operating as a Major Trafficker and Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, and the Class B felonies of Conspiracy in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree. Lourdes Lopez, 38, of Otisville, was charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree, and Criminal Possession of a Firearm. Juan Mejia, 51, of the Town of Blooming Grove, was charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, and Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree. Derrick Anthony White, 50, of Middletown, and Jenah Vega, 22, of Kerhonksen, were charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree.
Two others faced felony charges in Connecticut District Court. Kevin Torres, 27, of Waterbury, Connecticut, was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell (Cocaine) Greater Than One-Half of an Ounce; and Jose Garcia, 49, of Waterbury, Connecticut, was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell (Cocaine) Greater Than One-Half Ounce, Possession of a Controlled Substance (Marijuana) with Intent to Sell, Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell within 1500 Feet of a School Zone, Operating a Drug Factory, and Illegal Transfer of a Firearm.
During the execution of the search warrants, police seized over 1,100 grams of cocaine, three loaded handguns, one shotgun, and approximately $70,000 in United States currency.
Perez-Molina, Lopez, White, Mejia, and Vega were arraigned in Newburgh City Court. Perez-Molina and Mejia were remanded without bail. Vega was released on her own recognizance, despite the District Attorney’s request for bail. White and Lopez were released on their own recognizance, because they are charged with offenses that are not a bail-eligible offense under New York’s current laws regarding bail.
District Attorney Hoovler thanked the New York State Police VGNET; the Connecticut State Police Statewide Narcotics Task Force, Northwest Field Office; the Connecticut State’s Attorney’s Office; the City of Waterbury Police Department Vice and Intelligence Unit; and the City of Waterbury Police Department Gangs Task Force, for their assistance in the investigation of the case.
“The sale of illegal drugs is among the worst problems in society today,” said District Attorney Hoovler, “and illegal narcotics activity has a significant adverse impact on our communities. That activity is especially egregious when it crosses state lines, as it did in this case. Since I took office, I have made it a priority for my staff to attack illegal narcotics trafficking. The take-down that we announce today is just one aspect of that larger strategy, and we will continue to investigate and prosecute illegal drug dealers wherever, whenever, and to the extent possible.”
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Alexis Gregory and Neal Eriksen and Senior Assistant District Attorney Richard Moran.
A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.