FEB 27 (ALBANY, N.Y.) – Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division, George P. Beach II, Superintendent of the New York State Police (NYSP), and New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill announced today the sentencing of Deivis Ceballos to a sentence of 13 years in prison and five years post-release supervision on charges of Conspiracy in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Robert M. Mandelbaum imposed the sentence this afternoon. A jury trial ended in a guilty verdict on January 30, 2017. This was the second time Ceballos faced trial on these charges. A Manhattan Supreme Court judge declared a mistrial in the case on June 1, 2015 when jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
As demonstrated by the evidence, Ceballos owned a Texas-based trucking company and was hired to transport a load of narcotics for Jose Mota, the head of a drug trafficking organization based in Washington Heights, Manhattan.
Members of the DEA New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (DETF) arrested Ceballos on July 3, 2011 at the Vince Lombardi Service Area off Interstate 95 (I-95) in Ridgefield, N.J. after he removed a suitcase containing 5 kilograms of heroin (11 lbs.) and 23 kilograms of methamphetamine (51 lbs.), from his tractor-trailer. At the time the seizure, the load of methamphetamine was the largest ever seized by DEA New York Division. The DETF comprises agents and officers of the DEA, NYPD and NYSP.
Methamphetamine continues to flow into New York City. In the first two months of 2017, a joint investigation by the DEA New York Division and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office led to the recovery of approximately 14 kilograms of crystal meth (30 lbs.) smuggled in vehicles travelling from the West Coast for distribution in the metropolitan area. This investigation is ongoing.
In the case of Ceballos and Mota, evidence suggested they were expecting to receive a shipment of heroin and cocaine from Mexican suppliers, but were instead provided with heroin and crystal meth. The Mexican suppliers are believed to have made the substitution in an effort to expand the market for methamphetamine in New York City. Mota learned of this change only after the load had crossed the border into Texas, and relayed the information to Ceballos.
Ceballos and Mota were co-defendants at trial in 2015 until Mota opted to plead guilty to the top narcotics charge of Operating as a Major Trafficker, and other crimes. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison and five years post-release supervision.
Ceballos took the witness stand at both trials and falsely testified that he believed the drug shipment he transported in his truck in 2011 contained marijuana rather than narcotics. He also claimed to have participated in the scheme only because he feared Mota.
This false testimony was refuted by recorded conversations between Ceballos and Mota obtained pursuant to court authorized eavesdropping warrants, as well as other evidence. Ceballos was intercepted having 67 conversations with Mota in the week leading up to the drug delivery. Both the number of calls and the nature of the discussions suggested that far from being an unwitting mule, Ceballos was an important member of Mota’s drug organization.
Ceballos received a sentence of 13 years in prison plus 5 years post-release supervision for Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, 10 years in prison plus 5 years post-release supervision for Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree, and 4 1/3 to 13 years in prison for Conspiracy in the Second Degree, with all of sentences to run concurrently.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan thanked the prosecution team led by Assistant District Attorney James Hanley, Assistant District Attorney Justin Ashenfelter and Assistant District Attorney Kristin Bailey, with assistance from Investigative Analyst Christian Bermudez and Trial Preparation Assistants Peter Plumey and Irina Diaz, with the office’s Special Investigations Bureau and Trial Division. Ms. Brennan also thanked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York City Police Department and the New York State Police for their work on the investigation.
Deivis Rafael Ceballos
Conspiracy 2nd – 4 1/3 to 13 years prison
CPCS 1st – 13 years prison + 5 years PRS
CPCS 2nd – 10 years prison + 5 years PRS