Fifth defendant pleads in heroin ring

ALBANY — The fifth defendant being prosecuted for being part of a heroin drug trafficking ring has pleaded guilty in federal court to heroin distribution charges on Tuesday.

Jose Cortes-Cruz, also known as “Bimbo,” 28, of Schenectady, pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and distributing heroin.

A traffic stop in Amsterdam in April 2017 is what led police to investigate the drug trafficking ring that distributed more than a kilogram of heroin in Amsterdam and Schenectady and extended as far as Puerto Rico.

Eight people were arrested in April 2019 after search warrants were executed in Amsterdam, Schenectady and the Bronx. One person remains at large.

Cortes-Cruz was the fifth to plead guilty in the case.

In pleading guilty, Cortes-Cruz admitted to being a member of the drug trafficking organization that distributed heroin in Schenectady between 2017 and Dec. 20, 2018. As a member of the organization, Cortes-Cruz picked up heroin and delivered thousands of dollars in cash as payment. The heroin was then sold in and around Schenectady.

Cotes-Cruz faces up to 20 years in prison, a term of supervised release of at least 3 years and up to life, and a maximum fine of $1 million. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. sentencing guidelines and other factors.

Four of Cortes-Cruz’s co-defendants, Leamzy Soto Calderon, also known as “Lee,” and “Gordo,” Linette Marie Soto, Kristen Jansen and Gregory Insogna, have already pleaded guilty.

Soto Calderon, 28, and Insogna, 45, pleaded guilty in federal court on May 31 and June 3, respectively, to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and distributing heroin.

Soto Calderon regularly picked up hundreds of grams of heroin and delivered thousands of dollars in cash payment for the heroin; prepared the heroin for sale by mixing it with a cutting agent and packaging it in “bundles” and “bags”; and sold that heroin to a large customer base in and around Schenectady. The bundles were sold for $85 each, according to plea agreement documents.

In December 2018, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant on Soto Calderon’s residence and seized 268 grams of heroin, cutting agent and heroin processing materials.

In admitting his part in the drug ring, Insogna admitted to obtaining heroin from Soto Calderon and others, which he then sold in Amsterdam. Insogna also admitted to having couriers pick up the heroin from Soto Calderon and to deliver payment to him.

Soto Calderon faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison and a maximum fine of $10 million. Insogna faces at least five years and up to life and a maximum fine of $10 million.

Jansen pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin on May 8. She faces a minimum of five years in prison and up to life with a $100 fine.

On May 29, Soto also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin. She faces a mandatory 10 years in prison and up to life as well as a $100 fine. She also forfeited $4,561.

Both were considered low level players in the drug ring.

Co-defendants Jean Carlos Rivera-Perez, also known as “Tego,” Esteban Ressy, also known as “The Boss,” and Patrick McNamara are pending trial. The final defendant, Daniel Garcia, also known as “Danny,” is at large.

Ressy was arrested in Puerto Rico.

McNamara is from Amsterdam, Rivera-Perez the Bronx, and the rest are from Schenectady.

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