Seven Held Without Bail in Drug Bust
The Philadelphia Inquirer
June 7, 1991
Seven men, including one invited to a White House fund-raising event, were ordered held without bail yesterday on charges arising from the largest drug bust in New Jersey history.
The defendants, allegedly tied to the Cali drug cartel of Colombia, were arrested last Friday following a four-month undercover operation.
Customs officials netted 4,700 pounds of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of $58.2 million, and 7,000 pounds of marijuana, worth $11.2 million.
As part of his argument that businessman Eduardo Mantilla be granted bail, attorney Patrick A. Mullin presented to the court a form letter from President Bush inviting the defendant to the White House.
Mantilla, of Plantation, Fla., also had a 1988 letter from former President Ronald Reagan, thanking him for contributions made to the Republican Party and asking him for continued support.
Mullin argued that the letters indicated that Mantilla, former owner of a business that manufactured hot tubs, was an upstanding citizen.
"They are not going to be sending out letters to a drug dealer," Mullin said. "You have President Bush inviting him to dinner next week at the White House."
Said U.S. Magistrate G. Donald Haneke: "He's probably not going to be able to make it." He then ordered Mantilla held without bail.
Mantilla is charged with conspiracy to import cocaine and marijuana and related conspiracy charges. He faces 30 years to life in prison and a $4 million fine if convicted, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stuart Rabner.
Mantilla, 54, was identified as a key figure in the alleged conspiracy, along with Robert Jonas, 53, of Pompano Beach, Fla.
"The amount of narcotics involved here is staggering," Rabner told the judge. "If ever there was a case where detention is appropriate, this is that case." Agent Robert E. Van Etten of the U.S. Customs Service said last Friday that it was the largest haul ever in New Jersey.
Several special agents from the U.S. Customs Service had gone undercover in New Jersey and Florida to infiltrate part of the Cali cartel, believed to be the world's largest drug ring.
Cartel members flew the drugs in a private plane from Colombia to Miami and on to New Jersey, court papers charged. The undercover agents met with the traffickers six or seven times.
At the final meeting last Friday morning, the undercover agents met at the Comfort Inn in Elizabeth with Jonas and Mantilla, according to court papers, and passed over keys to a rental truck holding the drugs.
Jonas and Mantilla, who were unarmed, were arrested after they stepped into the truck, court papers said.
Also arrested were Pablo Martinez, 33, of the Bronx, N.Y., Enidio Abreu, 42, of Teaneck, and Julio Menendez, 29, of North Bergen.
The three are citizens of the Dominican Republic and are accused of helping deliver the drugs.
Three other men, all U.S. citizens, are accused of planning to ship the marijuana to Illinois and Indiana for sale and were arrested in the Newark area, where $900,000 was seized.
They were Michael Mittenberg, 43, of East Meadow, N.Y.; Louis Albin, 31, of Miami Lakes, Fla.; and Joseph Hinson, 50, of Miami.
All except Albin were ordered held without bail.
The judge set Albin's bail at $160,000, and restricted him to a home in Florida and travel to New Jersey.