Humberto Baez, 52, was sentenced earlier this week after being convicted back in 2019. Prosecutors say Baez conspired with others to import pounds of cocaine in the flaps of boxes of chilis. Baez sourced the cocaine from the Dominican Republic and used an importing company as cover for the scheme.
Baez and others arranged two “dry run” shipments containing only produce into Red Hook Terminal in Brooklyn “to establish the appearance of a legitimate business relationship between the exporter and importer,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
A third shipment that had the 16 kilos of cocaine arrived in Miami in late February 2018. Prosecutors said the drug was destined for Baez’s warehouse in Pennsylvania and that he used the code word “ripe tomatoes” to relay that cocaine was in the cargo.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said Baez was “fueling a violent trade that victimizes New Yorkers.”
“His conviction and sentencing today sends a clear message that the NYPD and our law enforcement partners will stop at nothing to track these kinds of schemes and protect the public from the impact of illegal narcotics,” Shea said.