Luis Barrios arrested, charged with attempt to smuggle cocaine into U.S.
Updated On: Jan 18 2013 05:29:03 PM CST
A two-month investigation has landed a Berks County man behind bars after he allegedly smuggled cocaine into the country from Panama.
The drugs were headed for Berks, but federal authorities figured it out in Miami, said investigators.
Luis Barrios was arrested Thursday night at his home in Spring Township for being the main conspirator behind the smuggling operation, said investigators.
In December, the Department of Homeland Security intercepted a "Christmas present." Mixed in with Santa hats and labeled, "Christmas decorations," the feds found 650 grams of cocaine worth $65,000 inside a box, officials said.
"The package was tied in with Mr. Barrios through the investigation," said Lt. Rich Troutman, Spring Twp. Police Dept.
The package was addressed to a fictitious person in Reading, said police. Agents in Miami made the discovery and sent the box overnight to Philadelphia.
"Once it arrived in Philadelphia, their agents then tracked it to the Reading area," said Troutman.
Undercover agents delivered the box to Reading, set surveillance on the home, and found out the box made its way to Barrios' home in the 1800 block of Portland Avenue in West Lawn.
"It's awful. There's a school how many streets down? It's not good for our neighborhood or anybody's neighborhood," said Christa Bowman, who lives on Portland Avenue.
Neighbors living on the same block couldn't believe the alleged scheme was happening right under their noses.
"Yeah, it's kind of scary. I didn't even know it," said Paula Cieplinski, only a few doors away from Barrios' home.
Barrios was already facing charges from two other drug arrests in the fall. He was out on bail awaiting trial, said investigators.
Barrios was charged early Friday with attempt to possess with intent to deliver cocaine, conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver cocaine, criminal use of communication facility, and related charges. He was committed to the Berks County Jail on $75,000 bail.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Berks County detectives worked together with the Spring Township Police Department in the most recent investigation of Barrios.
Copyright 2013 WFMZ. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Snow moves in to blanket region, will be heavy at times
DA plans news conference on missing Lehigh County woman
Man killed after being struck by vehicle in Bethlehem
Multiple people shot at shopping center in Reading
Jackknifed truck closes snow-covered road in West Penn
Trucker charged with vehicular homicide in crash that killed 3 on I-78
Two teens wounded by gunshot in Tamaqua
Expert says residents should not be alarmed about recent missing woman cases
Snow forces postponement of Easton-Pburg football game
Woman tied up, beat 4-year-old child, detectives say