Public Notices and Press Releases

Essex County Man Pleads Guilty to Major Drug Trafficking and Firearms Charges

Carlos Santiago of East Orange, New Jersey, has entered guilty pleas to significant drug trafficking and firearms charges, as announced by U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger.

NEWARK, NJ - Announced April 18, 2024, in Newark federal court, before U.S. District Judge Michael Farbiarz, Carlos Santiago, 49, of East Orange, New Jersey, admitted to charges including the possession with intent to distribute substantial amounts of fentanyl and cocaine, as well as possessing firearms as a convicted felon.

Details presented in court reveal that on October 24, 2022, federal agents apprehended Santiago while he was transferring drugs from a storage unit to his vehicle in Newark. A subsequent search at the storage unit uncovered several kilograms of fentanyl and cocaine and a firearm. Further searches at Santiago’s East Orange residence led to the discovery of additional quantities of these drugs and five more firearms. 

Santiago's criminal history in Essex County includes previous convictions for drug offenses and resisting arrest.

The severity of the charges reflects the significant quantities involved: the fentanyl charge involves 400 grams or more, carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a potential life sentence, with a fine up to $10 million. 

The cocaine charge, concerning 500 grams or more, holds a mandatory minimum of five years and could extend to 40 years, accompanied by a $5 million fine. 

For the firearms possession, Santiago could face up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for September 5, 2024.

The successful plea results from thorough investigations by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Barnes, Chief of the OCDETF/Narcotics Unit in Newark, is managing the government’s case.

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