A cocaine trafficking ring that for years distributed "vast amounts" of Honduran cocaine throughout the mid-Atlantic region has been busted, and three Maryland residents and 25 Virginia residents involved have been arrested, according to federal prosecutors.
The drug ring, based in Northern Virginia, routinely paid couriers to fly into the United States from Honduras with cocaine stashed in shoes, decorative wooden frames and other "innocuous items" that would blend in with their luggage, according to a statement on the bust released Thursday by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The cocaine would then be distributed in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Massachusetts, the statement said.
The ring operated between 2006 and this month, and supplied a network of "street-level dealers" with their cocaine, the statement said.
The three Maryland residents arrested — Maria Florinda Benitez-Pineda, 26, of Baltimore; Rudy Humberto Tabaro, 30, of Lutherville; and Edwin Espana Morales, 38, of Riverdale — were all involved in the distribution of the cocaine, the statement said.
They've each been charged with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, and face between five and 40 years in prison if convicted, the statement says.