Two Buffalo men arrested, charged with cocaine conspiracy

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WETM-TV) – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Juan
Padua, 32, and Michael Vasquez, 24, both of Buffalo, NY, were arrested and charged by
criminal complaint with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more
of cocaine. The charge carries a minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum
of 40 years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles E. Watkins, who is handling the case, stated that
according to the complaint, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) intercepted the U.S.
Postal Service Priority Express Mail parcel shipped from Puerto Rico and addressed to an
apartment in which defendant Padua resided. The box was turned over the Buffalo Office
of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

On July 22, 2020, investigators executed a federal search warrant on the box, which
contained toys, coloring books, paper plates, napkins, and a Nickelodeon slime box. The
slime box, which was wrapped in red wrapping paper with multi-colored stars and Spanish
writing, contained a large, white, brick-like substance that was comprised of a loosely
packed white powder. Field tests indicated the presence of both cocaine and fentanyl.

On July 23, 2020, a transmitting device was installed in the parcel and a controlled
delivery was conducted. A short time later, investigators received a tone indicating that the
parcel was opened. Investigators then executed a search warrant at the apartment in which
Padua resided. The parcel was found in the rafters in the attic. Additional search efforts led
to the recovery of the USPIS transmitting device, which was broken and recovered from
the rooftop of the rear porch at the premises. The defendants were taken into custody.
The defendants made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J.
Roemer. Vasquez was released on conditions, Padua is being held pending a detention
hearing.

The complaint is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service,
under the direction of Boston Division Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin, and the
Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray
Donovan, New York Field Division.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and
the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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