Due to years of U.S. open border policies the constant flow of drugs from the Mexican border is a daily affair that extends across the entire United States. This is why the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) took quick action after receiving information of drug trafficking activities early last week. According to the court complaint, DEA agents identified James Wilkie, Remus Nowak, and Fernando Rodriguez, of Buffalo, N.Y., as active suspects in a large-scale cocaine distribution organization directly connected to Mexico. The complaint identified James Wilkie as the lead suspect in this case, after $9 million worth of cocaine was smuggled from Mexico into Arizona.

It was his job to pick up the drugs and transport them to Buffalo, give them to Nowak, who would then pass the drugs along to Rodriguez, who was in charge of distributing the drugs throughout the city. Nowak and Rodriguez would collect the money from the sales and give it to Wilkie, who in turn would pay off the Mexican source.

Controlling the situation

On Wednesday, February 22, 2017, the Illinois State Police in Collinsville, Illinois pulled over Wilkie for an obstructed license plate. While searching the vehicle, they found 30 kilograms of cocaine in a suitcase, and 18 kilograms in a duffel bag. It was later learned that the 30 kilograms were destined for Chicago, while the 18 kilograms were destined for Buffalo.

With this discovery, the DEA, working with the DEA Fairview Heights, Ill., set up for the next day a controlled delivery, in which Wilkie would drop off to Nowak 18 kilograms of “sham” cocaine at a local hotel.

During the drop off, Nowak entered into a conversation about his relationship with the Mexican cocaine supplier. Nowak took control of the duffel bag containing the “sham cocaine and exited the hotel, at which point DEA agents waiting outside arrested him.

After the arrest, agents set up another controlled delivery for Nowak to deliver the cocaine to Rodriguez at an auto shop on Kenmore Avenue in Tonawanda, N.Y. After Nowak arrived at the auto shop conversation related to the drugs and the Mexican source took place and the duffel bag was transferred into Rodriguez's possession, at which time agents arrested Rodriguez.

Price to be paid

If found guilty of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute over five kilograms or more of cocaine, the defendants could receive a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, and a maximum of life and a $10 million fine.