Three men were arrested Thursday on federal charges of being part of a conspiracy to distribute 83 pounds of cocaine into Central Kentucky, according to U.S. District Court records.
The 83 pounds of cocaine were found in the trunk of a car stopped on Interstate 64 in Bath County. Later, as part of the same investigation, authorities found another 41 pounds of marijuana in a Lexington house.
Felipe Ortiz Zunun, Cesar Castro-Martinez and Raul Velazquez Maldonado are scheduled to have an initial appearance Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward R. Adkins in Lexington.
Castro-Martinez, 34, was being held without bond Saturday in the Woodford County jail, but it’s not known where the other two men are being held. An affidavit filed by a special agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration describes how the drugs were discovered.
The three men were arrested after a confidential source told the DEA that Zunun received a shipment of cocaine that he was looking to distribute to unknown people in Louisville.
On Thursday federal agents and officers followed Zunun as he drove a Honda sedan from Lexington to Morehead, where he arrived in the area of Trey and Fayth Discount Outlet on Flemingsburg Road and parked in the area of an attached warehouse.
There Zunun met with Castro-Martinez and Maldonado.
Zunun took two duffel bags from the warehouse and put them into the trunk of the Honda. He left in the Honda while Castro-Martinez and Maldonado left in a black Jeep. Both vehicles got onto I-64 headed west toward Lexington.
At the request of DEA, Kentucky State Police stopped both vehicles in Bath County. A drug-detection dog sniffed the car and alerted police to drugs, so a search of the trunk was conducted.
Inside the trunk, one duffel bag contained 18 kilogram-sized packages labeled “JPR.” In the second duffel bag were 11 kilogram-sized packages labeled “JPR” and another nine packages with a picture of a shark. A field test of the substance inside the packages was positive for cocaine.
The 38 packages weighed about 83 pounds.
State police also found “a large sum of U.S. currency” in the Jeep, but the affidavit does not give an amount. Castro-Martinez denied that the money belonged to him. Maldonado told troopers that he had traveled from Guadalajara, Mexico, to the United States three days before and that Castro-Martinez was a friend of a friend. Maldonado said he was in the United States to purchase heavy equipment.
Zunun later told investigators that Castro-Martinez and Maldonado were to assist him in retrieving the cocaine that Zunun acknowledged was his. Zunun said he knew Castro-Martinez but had not previously met Maldonado.
Zunun gave written consent for investigators to search his home on Walcott Way in Lexington. There they found about 41 pounds of marijuana, handgun ammunition and unidentified white powders.
In his interview with police Castro-Martinez claimed that 37 of the 38 packages of cocaine were to go to Zunun and that he, Castro-Marinez, was going to keep a single package to personally sell for profit. Castro-Martinez said the cocaine had been delivered to the Morehead warehouse in a semi-truck.
During a court-ordered search of the warehouse, investigators found a “heavy piece of metal equipment which appeared to have a hollow compartment where the cocaine had been surreptitiously transported to Kentucky,” the affidavit said.
Maldonado told investigators that he had been paid to travel from Mexico to Morehead to assist in the retrieval of drugs shipped to the warehouse. Maldonado said his legitimate profession was as a heavy equipment mechanic and that his skills were of use in getting the cocaine from the piece of metal equipment.