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Man accused in cocaine distribution scheme

Cesar Rodriguez faces federal charge

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man is accused of picking up packages of cocaine that were sent from Puerto Rico to four cities, including Jacksonville, according to federal court documents. 

Cesar Rodriguez faces one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, which is a federal charge, officials said Monday. 

More than $100,000 worth of cocaine was smuggled into Jacksonville alone, federal investigators said.

Seven kilos, or about 15 pounds, of cocaine were shipped by mail to Jacksonville and more was shipped to Lake Wales, Miami and New York City, according to court documents.

The drugs were all sent from Puerto Rico and were discovered at postal distribution centers, which is more common than one might assume, News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said.

“It’s not unusual that someone would try that,” Smith said. “If they were able to catch this amount, you have to understand there is a lot more that probably goes through undetected.”

In Jacksonville, the cocaine was mailed to a home on Montevideo Road, officials said.

When agents intercepted the cocaine at the distribution center, they set up a sting operation that ultimately led to Rodriguez’s arrest. Because the case is still under federal investigation, Rodriguez’s mugshot hasn’t been released.

Documents show Rodriguez admitted he was paid $500 for each package of mail he picked up. He told investigators he used the address on Montevideo Road because a friend lived there and it was safer than using his own address.

“All he’s doing is accepting the packages and he receives $500, but at the same time, he’s assuming the risk,” Smith said.

A woman who lives at the home said off-camera that she had no idea authorities were at her house around 10:30 a.m. Dec. 5. That was about the time she was at work. A neighbor said he looked out his window that day and saw the entire street lined with unmarked law enforcement vehicles.

He said he saw federal agents going in and out of the house.

Smith said the street value of 7 kilos of cocaine in Jacksonville would vary by how many people it took to get the drugs to their destination.

“The more hands involved, then the price goes up, so you’re looking (at) roughly between $18,000 to $20,000 per kilo,” Smith said. “Wow. That’s a lot of money -- (a) lot of money, so 7 kilos, you’re talking well over $100,000.”

One of the main suspects connected to the case is believed to be operating out of Miami.
    
Authorities said that suspect told Rodriguez to use a friend’s address after postal inspectors in Miami intercepted 6 kilos of cocaine.


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