NEW JERSEY AG’S OFFICE
TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Spring Valley, N.Y., man pleaded guilty today to a first-degree drug charge in connection with 24 kilograms of cocaine that were seized from his car on Route 287 in Parsippany-Troy Hills when he was stopped by the New Jersey State Police last year.
Beningo Gomez-Morales, 24, of Spring Valley, N.Y., pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute before Superior Court Judge Robert J. Gilson in Morris County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Gomez-Morales be sentenced to 10 years in state prison, including 3 ½ years of parole ineligibility.
His girlfriend, Eridania Batista DeLeon, 32, of Spring Valley, who was a passenger in the car when the cocaine was seized, pleaded guilty today to third-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution. The state will recommend that she be sentenced to a term of probation. Judge Gilson scheduled sentencing for Gomez-Morales and Batista DeLeon for July 18.
Deputy Attorney General Amy Sieminski prosecuted the case and took the guilty pleas for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
“The cocaine seized by the State Police in this case had a potential street value of nearly three-quarters of a million dollars,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “Narcotics shipments on this level can fuel a lot of street-level distribution – with all of the drug abuse, street crime and violence that inevitably flow from it. This type of interdiction has a real impact on public safety.”
“This was an outstanding bust by the New Jersey State Police which kept many kilos of cocaine off the street,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “With this guilty plea, we have ensured a lengthy prison sentence for this transcontinental drug runner.”
“We know that when we remove narcotics and drug dealers from our communities, it makes them safer. As a result of the outstanding work of our investigating troopers and partnering agencies, we’ve done both,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
On September 7, 2013, state troopers stopped a Subaru Tribeca driven by Gomez-Morales after it merged from Route 80 East onto Route 287 North, nearly striking a limousine. The stop was made during surveillance related to an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Drug Trafficking North Unit, which had received information that the vehicle was being used to transport narcotics through New Jersey. After the two occupants gave conflicting information about where their trip began, detectives requested and received consent to search the vehicle.
Upon opening the rear door of the vehicle, they noticed a hidden compartment under the back seats, which was partially open, revealing packaging material. They asked Gomez-Morales to open the trap, which he did, and the detectives found 24 kilograms of packaged cocaine. Gomez-Morales admitted he had been paid $15,000 to transport the narcotics from California to New York.