Affidavit: Source used emojis to set up cocaine deals in Youngst - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Feds break up suspected Puerto Rican cocaine pipeline

Affidavit: Source used emojis to set up cocaine deals in Youngstown

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Amaury Santiago (L) Felix Santiago (R) Amaury Santiago (L) Felix Santiago (R)
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

A confidential source, who helped federal agents break-up an alleged Puerto Rico to Youngstown cocaine pipeline, said he used emojis to set up drug deals, according to an affidavit.

The unnamed source, recruited by the Drug Enforcement Administration, told agents he would schedule purchases of cocaine from 27-year-old Amaury Calderon Santiago of Youngstown by texting electronic images known as emojis.

According to the affidavit filed in U.S. District Court, the confidential source said he would send Santiago one emoji for each ounce of cocaine he wished to purchase.

For example, if he wished to buy five ounces of cocaine, the confidential source would text five emojis to Santiago.

The source told investigators that Santiago ran the alleged drug operation out of four Youngstown homes on Lansdown Boulevard, Victor Avenue, Bennington Avenue, and Atkinson Avenue.

Agents say the information led to two federally-monitored deals in May and June in which the confidential source purchased 4 ounces of cocaine from Santiago for $4,600.

The confidential source told investigators that Santiago and his “brothers” are receiving several kilograms of cocaine and heroin each week from Puerto Rico.

Investigators state in the affidavit that homes associated with Santiago on Bennington Avenue, Victor Avenue, and Lansdowne Boulevard have been receiving numerous packages from Puerto Rico and websites associated with the so-called “Dark Web.”

The DEA describes the Dark Web marketplace as a place that hosts vendors peddling illegal wares.

Between September 6, 2018, and May 6, 2019, investigators say twelve packages from Puerto Rico were delivered to the three addresses, one weighing more than nine pounds.

A package intercepted by federal investigators on Monday contained 3-and-a-half pounds of cocaine.

Agents removed all but about ten grams of cocaine and placed a GPS tracker in the package which was delivered to the Bennington Avenue home by an undercover agent posing as a post office letter carrier.

After receiving a radio signal that the package had been opened, agents went into the home where they say they found 29-year-old Felix Calderone Santiago and the opened package.

When Santiago denied knowing anything about the package, agents flashed a black light on his hands which illuminated an otherwise invisible substance that that investigators had sprayed on the package beforehand.

Each of the Santiagos was arrested for possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. Felix Calderone Santiago is also charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

Both men have been turned over to U.S. Marshals until their next court hearings later this month.

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