PROVIDENCE (STL.News) A Providence man federal agents watched allegedly take possession of a package sent via the United States Postal Service (USPS) that contained nearly 1,400 grams of cocaine shipped from Puerto Rico, and, a short time later, who was found to allegedly have a firearm, ammunition, and drug trafficking paraphernalia in his residence, has been ordered detained in federal custody.
Modesto Batista, 30, was arrested Wednesday, shortly after a U.S. Postal Inspection agent made a controlled delivery of the package to the front porch of a Providence residence that, according to court documents, Batista, who had been sitting in a vehicle parked nearby, quickly removed and transported to his Providence residence. Batista’s alleged actions were surveilled by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents and detectives assigned to the Rhode Island High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA).
Moments after Batista went inside his residence, agents knocked on the door and announced their presence, after which they forcibly entered the residence. According to court documents, Batista was found standing at the foot of the stairs leading to the upstairs portion of the house. The package containing the cocaine shipped from Puerto Rico was allegedly found at Batista’s feet.
From inside Batista’s bedroom agents allegedly seized, among other items, a 9mm semiautomatic handgun and a magazine for the firearm loaded with fourteen rounds of live ammunition. Various items used in the delivery of cocaine were also found inside the residence.
The investigation began in October, when HSI agents in Rhode Island were contacted by Customs and Border Protection agents in Puerto Rico regarding a USPS package containing 769 grams of cocaine shipped from the U.S. Virgin Islands earmarked for delivery to a Providence address.
On Thursday, Batista was ordered detained by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Sullivan on a criminal complaint charging him with possession of more than 500 grams of cocaine with the intent to distribute, conspiracy to possess more than 500 grams of cocaine with the intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, announced United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman, Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge David Magdycz, Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division and Colonel James Manni, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.
A federal criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland.