A federal jury in Charleston last week convicted a 30-year-old New York man for his role in a cocaine-smuggling operation that was operating out of Goose Creek, prosecutors announced Monday.
Carlos Tejada, of the Bronx, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and laundering drug money, according to a news release from acting U.S. Attorney for South Carolina, Kevin F. McDonald.
Evidence presented during the week-long trial established that in 2008, Tejada purchased and distributed more than 50 kilograms of cocaine from a drug trafficking cell operating out of Goose Creek, the release states.
The two-year investigation revealed that the Goose Creek cell arranged for hundreds of kilograms of Mexican cocaine to be transported by cars with hidden compartments from Tuscon, Ariz., and El Paso, Texas, to South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida and New York for distribution, the release states.
The cell also transported money back to Arizona and Texas to members of Mexican drug cartels, the release states. The cartel members would then smuggle the U.S. currency into Mexico.
In addition to purchasing and distributing cocaine, Tejada aided the cell by providing a vehicle with a hidden compartment to satisfy a drug debt owed to the cell, the release states.
Senior U.S. District Judge Sol Blatt Jr. presided over the trial and will sentence Tejada later this year.
Tejada faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum of life.
The case was investigated by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force, which includes agents from the DEA, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, the Summerville Police Department, the S.C. Highway Patrol, the sheriff's offices in Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester and Georgetown counties, and the North Charleston Police Department.
Assistant U.S. attorney Peter T. Phillips of the Charleston office is prosecuting the case.