A Lyndhurst woman, a former U.S. Postal Service employee, has been sentenced to 46 months in prison for her role in a scheme to intercept and distribute cocaine mailed from Puerto Rico to New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
The defendant, Christina Nunez, 30, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and distribution of, 500 grams or more of cocaine and one count of mail theft, authorities said.
Salas imposed the prison sentence July 17 in Newark Federal Court.
In June, Nunez’ husband, Luis A. Vega, 37, was sentenced to 37 months for his role in distributing the cocaine- laden packages.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Since December 2010, Nunez had been receiving packages of cocaine, which were mailed from Puerto Rico to delivery addresses along her mail route.
Nunez would intercept the packages, scan them as delivered — despite never delivering the packages to the delivery addresses — and ultimately transport them to conspirators in Camden.
In February 2011, U.S. Postal Service inspectors seized approximately 1,300 grams of cocaine from an Express Mail package that was supposed to be delivered by Nunez. After this seizure, the drug-trafficking organization ceased sending packages until December 2011, when, once again, packages from Puerto Rico were mailed to addresses assigned to Nunez’ route.
On Aug. 22, 2012, another suspicious package was sent from Dorado, P.R. Once it arrived in Kearny, law enforcement noted that the delivery address would be assigned to Nunez’ mail route. Subsequent laboratory analysis confirmed that the package contained approximately 500 grams of cocaine.
The cocaine was seized and replaced with a substance similar in appearance and the package was placed back into circulation for delivery.
On Aug. 24, Nunez failed to deliver the package to its delivery address. At the end of her shift, Nunez returned to her residence in Lyndhurst with the package, where she and Vega were arrested.
In addition to intercepting the cocaine-filled packages on her mail route, both Nunez and Vega received packages of narcotics at her residence in Lyndhurst and Vega’s former residence in Jersey City.
In total, it is estimated that Nunez, Vega and their conspirators distributed more than 18 kilograms of the drug between October 2010 and August 2012.
In addition to the prison term, Salas sentenced both Nunez and Vega to two years of supervised release.
– Karen Zautyk