NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Nine members of a major cocaine trafficking ring were arraigned Wednesday.

As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, prosecutors used a wiretap and videotape as evidence to round up the members of the ring that operated in Manhattan, the Bronx and New Jersey.

A lead defendant, Ralph Ben Cotto, was held without bail and charged as a major trafficker under the state’s drug kingpin law.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Ryan told the court Cotto was seen on videotape exchanging money for two kilos of cocaine with co-defendant Angel Alvarez. The prosecutor said the exchange took place in the presence of Alvarez’s toddler, who is seen looking over the backseat as the drug deal is made.

Cotto’s attorney argued he has an impeccable record, owns a home, has a newborn child and runs a legitimate business with his wife.

As Cornell reported, the prosecutor scoffed at that, saying, “I’d like to know what kind of business he runs. There is no evidence in the world that he runs any legitimate business.”

Steve Rich and Daniel Brown were charged with obtaining and transporting cocaine. Fred Scott, Frederick Faulcon, Carlos Laureano, Luis Alomar and Jordan Saleem are also facing charges and are accused of assisting in the packaging, distributing and selling of cocaine.


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