PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that a Providence man was sentenced in Providence County Superior Court last week to serve eight years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) after pleading to felony charges stemming from his role in trafficking kilos of cocaine through the mail.
Benjamin Delacruz (age 34) pleaded nolo contendere to one count of possessing more than one kilogram of cocaine.
At a hearing before Superior Court Justice Luis M. Matos, the court sentenced Delacruz to 15 years at the ACI with eight years to serve and the balance of the sentence suspended with probation.
"Unfortunately, the recent challenges faced by the United States Postal Service have not discouraged national and transnational drug organizations from using the mail to import large amounts of narcotics into the United States and Rhode Island for further distribution here. Fortunately, the Rhode Island State Police, the Postal Inspection Service and prosecutors with this Office have become adept at interdicting these packages and building strong prosecutions against those involved in this illicit business," said Attorney General Neronha. "I want to thank the State Police, all the law enforcement agencies that make up the HIDTA Task Force, and the Postal Inspection Service for their ongoing, excellent work in this area."
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on November 5, 2018, Delacruz was arrested by the Rhode Island State Police (RISP) High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force after he picked up a package containing nearly two kilograms of cocaine from a shipping store in Cranston.
In the months before his arrest, HIDTA Task Force members with assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) investigated suspicious packages shipped from Puerto Rico and received by Delacruz in Rhode Island.
On November 5, 2018, the USPIS intercepted a suspicious package destined for Delacruz that originated from Puerto Rico. After obtaining a court authorized search warrant, the RISP searched the package and determined that it contained cocaine.
The package was resealed and delivered to a shipping store in Cranston, where Delacruz picked it up later that day. Immediately after, the RISP arrested Delacruz and seized the package, which contained 1,964 grams of cocaine.
"Once again, the continued successful prosecution of this high-level narcotics case demonstrates the collaborative efforts by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Rhode Island Office of Attorney General to ensure these large-scale amounts of narcotics do not infiltrate the State of Rhode Island, " said Rhode Island State Police Colonel James M. Manni. "The Rhode Island State Police remains committed and vigilant in investigating these dangerous crimes."
The HIDTA Task Force is managed by the Rhode Island State Police and has investigators assigned from the Providence, Pawtucket, West Warwick, North Providence, Lincoln, and Middletown Police Departments.
The case was prosecuted in the Superior Court by Assistant Attorney General Joseph McBurney. The police investigation was led by Detective Robert Marchand of the Rhode Island State Police.