WILKES-BARRE — Undercover drug agents believe Ramon Colon was providing more than haircuts from The Master Barber Shop on Hazle Avenue.
Billed as the “The Best Cut in Town,” the barbershop that opened within the last year was “the hub” of a major cocaine and marijuana trafficking organization, said state Deputy Attorney General Tim Doherty.
Colon, 26, and his wife, Alexandra Mateo, 21, of Mayflower Crossing, Wilkes-Barre, were described by Doherty as the alleged ring leaders that peddled hundreds of pounds of marijuana and several kilos of cocaine from New York City to Luzerne County for the last eight months.
About 15 drug agents armed with assault rifles and wearing bulletproof armor served search warrants early Thursday morning at the barbershop and across the street at Idley’s Furniture Store. The apartment of Colon and Mateo at Mayflower Crossing on South Empire Street was searched, as was a residence on Coplay Place in Mountain Top.
The agents were joined by city police, Kingston police and Luzerne County detectives in the searches.
In all, five people were arraigned by District Judge Paul Roberts of Kingston on drug trafficking charges.
Doherty said he was only permitted to tell the news media that the investigation is “ongoing.”
In court, Doherty told Roberts the investigation targeted a “major narcotic organization that imported and distributed large amounts of cocaine and marijuana for the last eight months.”
One of those arrested, Freddy Reyes, 45, of Coplay Place, said through an interpreter he is employed at the furniture store. He denied selling any illicit drugs despite undercover agent’s recording of him exchanging money for marijuana from a man driving a vehicle with a Florida license plate in the Arena Hub parking lot in Wilkes-Barre Township, according to the criminal complaint.
“Nothing he says is true,” Reyes said. “I was not part of this organization in trafficking drugs.”
Colon, Mateo, Reyes, David Castro, 38, of Hayes Street, Hazleton, and David Hernandez, 24, of Wilkes-Barre, were charged with delivery of a controlled substance, corrupt organizations, criminal conspiracy and criminal use of communication facility. They were all jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $1 million bail each.
Details of the investigation are listed in a 141-page criminal complaint filed against the five people.
Undercover drug agents recorded thousands of phone calls and text messages for the last eight months. Communications between those allegedly involved in the trafficking ring picked up in April and May.
Doherty said in court Colon and Mateo frequently traveled to New York City to pick up cocaine and marijuana for distribution throughout Luzerne County, notably Plymouth, Nanticoke and Wilkes-Barre.
In one recorded phone conversation, one of the alleged dealers who was not charged said, “I don’t do Plymouth and Kingston.”
Code names for drugs
Code names were used to described certain drugs, such as “Pineapple Kush” for high grade marijuana and “CD” and “Raw Dawg” for pure cocaine.
A text message intercepted at 8:33 p.m. on May 11 from a buyer urges Colon to get more cocaine, according to authorities. Colon, in return, sent a text message to Mateo at 8:38 p.m. instructing her to take cocaine to the barbershop for the buyer to pick up, according to the criminal complaint.
Another text message recorded a conversation about counterfeit $20 bills mixed with a $3,000 payment for cocaine, the complaint states.
Preliminary hearings are scheduled on July 9.