A federal jury convicted a Bear man on Monday in connection with an elaborate drug transport scheme that included oxygen tanks and an underground bunker accessed by a fake fireplace.
Convicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and possession with intent to distribute marijuana was Omar Morales Colon. 44.
Morales Colon has been linked to the activities of the Sinaloa drug cartel, an organization known for its vast size and elaborate methods that include the use of tunnels and other types of transport and distribution. The Mexican cartel operates worldwide and has a presence in major cities in the U.S.
Morales Colon was acquitted on two related charges. U.S. District Judge Leonard P. Stark accepted the verdict.
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Morales Colon imported 77 kilograms of cocaine into Delaware from California.
The cocaine was smuggled inside four-foot-tall oxygen tanks.
After giving his cocaine supplier $382,045 in cash in a hotel parking lot in Newark, DE, Colon was arrested shortly after.
The Drug Enforcement Administration discovered a hidden underground bunker beneath Colon’s residence, accessed by a tunnel behind a false fireplace. The tunnel led to a marijuana-growing operation.
Colon and his wife, Shakira Martinez, have also been charged with various money laundering offenses. A trial date for the money laundering charges has not yet been set.
Prosecutors allege that drug proceeds were used, among other things, to buy real estate.
Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss stated: “The defendant was a sophisticated drug trafficker who conspired with others, including members of the Sinaloa cartel, to bring vast amounts of cocaine into Delaware. The DEA’s investigation led to the seizure of 17 kilograms of cocaine, pounds of marijuana, nearly $1 million in cash, and the conviction of a major drug trafficker. My office will continue working with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who profit from illegal drug operations.”
Morales Colon faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison when sentenced. Stark will determine the defendant’s sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer K. Welsh and Whitney C. Cloud are prosecuting the case. The DEA Philadelphia Division investigated this case.