Couple charged in large drug bust
Township police confiscated about 28 pounds of marijuana and $10,000 in currency during the investigation, officials said.
A husband and wife are charged in what Bristol Township police Chief James P. McAndrew is calling "the largest cocaine seizure" in township history.
Jose Fabio Ramos, 47, is charged with delivery of a controlled substance. He allegedly sold three pounds of marijuana to a confidential informant Jan. 29 in exchange for $3,900 and a half kilogram of cocaine hydrochloride to a confidential informant Tuesday in exchange for $16,500, according to a probable cause affidavit.
His wife, Dora Estrada, 27, allegedly set the family residence on fire early Wednesday morning hours after police executed a search warrant at the house in the 800 block of Excelsior Avenue Tuesday.
Police searched the house about 9:15 p.m. Tuesday and found about 1.5 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride, 25 pounds of marijuana and $10,000 in U.S. currency, according to the affidavit.
Estrada, who was taken into custody late Wednesday, "admitted in an interview to Bensalem Detective David Nieves to intentionally setting the fire," according a probable cause affidavit.
The couple's two children were not in the home when the fire was set, authorities said.
Estrada also is facing possession with intent to deliver charges in connection with the cocaine and marijuana seized during the search, said Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler during a Friday afternoon news conference at the township building.
Authorities had what they said were the confiscated drugs and money on display near the podium at the conference to show what was hauled in.
The cocaine has a wholesale value of about $66,000 and a street value of $167,552, said Lt. Terry Hughes of the Bristol Township police department's special investigations division. The confiscated marijuana has a wholesale value of $36,400 and a street value of approximately $82,880, he said.
The arrests came after an 18-month investigation, which was a cooperative effort between township police, county law enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration, officials said.
The investigation of the couple began during a debriefing of a drug suspect, Hughes said. He declined to provide specifics about the suspect and what was uncovered during the debriefing because the Ramos and Estrada case remains an active investigation.
The suspects are being held in the county jail on $1 million bond each.
If convicted, Ramos faces a maximum of 43 years in prison, Heckler said. Estrada faces a maximum of 17 years on the drug charges and 20 years on the arson charge, if convicted, he said. In addition, Bristol Township authorities are contacting immigration officials because Estrada, a Mexico native, is not a U.S. citizen, Hughes said.
The case is a classic example of what can happen to people when they choose to sell drugs, Heckler said.
"You can make money selling drugs for a while, but in Bucks County, with our [law enforcement], eventually you will pay the price," he said.
"They've orphaned two children effectively, if they are convicted. It's a long-term price to pay."
By: JOAN HELLYER
February 13, 2010 12:00 AM
Bucks County Courier Times