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BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Juan Padua, 33, and Michael Vasquez, 24, both of Buffalo, NY, with narcotics conspiracy and attempting to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. The charges carry a mandatory 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 indictment and a previously filed complaint, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) intercepted a 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 roof top of the rear porch at the premises. The defendants were taken into custody.

The defendants were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer. Defendant Padua was detained; defendant Vasquez was released on conditions.

The indictment 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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