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North Tonawanda man charged in Grand Island cocaine bust

United States Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

U.S. Attorney James Kennedy announced Monday that a North Tonawanda man is charged with possession and intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine. According to investigators, they recovered a whole lot more of the drug after stopping a vehicle delivered to an auto dealer lot Friday evening.

Early Friday evening, law enforcement officers were conducting surveillance on what Kennedy identified as a Toyota dealership on Alvin Road in Grand Island. A hauler arrived at approximately 7:25 p.m., carrying numerous newer-looking Toyota models and one other car, a Mercury Mariner, that investigastors say was registered in Florida.

"As the cars were off-loaded, an individual identified as Edgar Joel Jiminez-Rodriguez, age 39 or North Tonawanda, drove up to the car hauler as the two truck drivers were unloading the vehicles," Kennedy said. "While the Toyotas were unloaded to the car dealership, when the black Mercury Mariner was off-loaded Jimenez(-Rodriguez) got into that vehicle and began to drive away."

The Mercury Mariner was stopped a short while later and upon a security sweep, investigators reportedly discovered the presence of clear plastic wrapping concealed underneath the vehicle. A K-9 officer was brought in to inspect further and, according to Kennedy, detected the presence of drugs. He said the approximate volume of cocaine found was 30 kilograms, or about 66 pounds.

New York State Police Major Mary Clark was among the law enforcers gathered Monday to announce the arrest.

"It takes months of work, close interagency cooperation and patience to develop the evidence needed in a case like this," she said. "The state police is committed to continuing this partnership."

In addition to New York State Police, the US Drug Enforcement Administration and Niagara Falls Police Department played roles in the probe. 

Jimenez-Rodriguez was scheduled to appear in federl court Tuesday afternoon for a detention hearing. Law enforcers stated their investigation continues but as of Monday, Jimenez-Rodriguez was the only defendant charged in relation to Friday's bust. Kennedy was asked if the driver of the hauler was suspected to have any role in drug trafficking.

"The investigators working this case spent significant time talking to that person and reviewed certain evidence that was in that invididual's possession," he said, not going into specifics. "At this point, he has not been charged."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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