HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Two Suffolk residents were convicted by a federal jury on charges relating to drug trafficking and money laundering in the Hampton Roads area.
According to court records, 42-year-old Jose Luis Cruz-Colon and 31-year-old Natassja Lopez-Alvarado were responsible for importing kilogram quantities of cocaine into the Hampton Roads area for distribution, then sending the proceeds of their sales to Puerto Rico to further the drug trafficking conspiracy.
Cruz-Colon and Lopez-Alvarado allegedly began drug trafficking in the Hampton Roads area in or around 2018, and continued through in or about 2020.
Their participation in the conspiracy came to light as part of a larger investigation into the criminal activities of the Rivera Drug Trafficking Organization in the Hampton Roads area.
Through court-authorized wiretap interceptions, parcel interdictions and other investigative work, agents were able to conduct controlled purchases of heroin and seize at least three kilograms of cocaine. Further, on December 12, 2020, Cruz-Colon and Lopez-Alvarado were stopped at the Richmond International Airport and were prevented from taking approximately $28,000 in U.S. currency in a vacuum-sealed bag from the Hampton Roads area to Puerto Rico.
Cruz-Colon was convicted of conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least five kilograms or more of cocaine and at least one kilogram or more of heroin. Lopez-Alvarado was convicted of conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least five kilograms or more of cocaine.
Both Cruz-Colon and Lopez-Alvarado face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison with a maximum possible penalty of life in prison when they are sentenced on February 2, 2022.
“As the evidence at trial showed, the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to launder the proceeds of their drug trafficking crimes on behalf of a network of conspirators that peddled illegal and potent substances from Puerto Rico into the Hampton Roads area,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Our Office is grateful to the trial team and our law enforcement partners for their thorough investigative efforts, which helped secure the guilty verdicts in this case.”