Twenty-six people in Wisconsin are facing potential life sentences Thursday after being busted by authorities for allegedly running a massive drug smuggling operation that funneled cocaine and cash between Milwaukee and Puerto Rico.
The suspected drug dealers, who were taken into custody Wednesday morning by police and federal agents, based their operation out of the state’s largest city and used the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the goods, according to a 227-page criminal complaint viewed by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel newspaper.
“Man, there’s a lot. All that cannot be put in one,” a defendant named in the complaint allegedly told another during a wiretapped conversation about how he was going to get around $30,000 into a box intended for Puerto Rico.
The suspects – who have been charged with drug distribution, conspiracy and money laundering – face potential life sentences if convicted. A decision on whether they will be held without bail is scheduled for next week.
Details in the complaint suggest the scheme involved hundreds of pounds of cocaine and millions in cash, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported. The group accused in the operation also received heroin and fentanyl and would pawn the drugs off to homes in Milwaukee and other American cities, it added, citing the complaint.
An ongoing investigation into the organization, which the complaint says began in 2018, revealed that several of the suspected dealers have family ties to Puerto Rico – the origin of the drugs.
Some of the suspected dealers called the Postal Service’s customer service helpline when packages containing the illicit goods failed to show up at their doorsteps, the complaint says.
“I’m having a problem with a package that was supposed to be here today,” one of the defendants allegedly told a USPS employee over the phone, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
In other wiretapped conversations, defendants were heard lamenting that the “mailmen are stealing it” and “there were two more in another box; that’s $80,000 lost.”