STATEN ISLAND, NY – Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, Adolfo LaCola was sentenced by United States Chief District Court Judge Margo K. Brodie to 48 months in prison for his participation in a narcotics distribution conspiracy and money laundering. LaCola pleaded guilty to the charges in September 2020.
Mark J. Lesko, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Ray Donovan, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division (DEA); Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI); and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the sentence.
“The defendant aspired to be a one-stop-shop for cocaine trafficking and money laundering, but thanks to the outstanding work of our law enforcement partners, LaCola’s next stop will be federal prison,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Lesko. “This Office will vigorously pursue narcotics traffickers who peddle drugs that endanger our communities.”
“LaCola’s criminal enterprise landed him in jail,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Donovan. “The DEA and our law enforcement partners investigate traffickers and money launderers alike who enable drug addiction in our communities. I applaud the partnership and hard work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation throughout this investigation.”
“The elaborate criminal network established by LaCola led to the appropriate sentence handed down today stated IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Larsen. “This investigation highlights the excellent work done through our partnership at the DEA Strike Force to tackle these drug and money laundering organizations.”
“LaCola operated with a complete disregard for law enforcement as he ran a large-scale cocaine distribution scheme and offered to ‘clean’ hundreds of thousands of dollars for who he thought was just another criminal looking to make a buck,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh. “LaCola’s brazen pride and cavalier attitude yielded the evidence needed to arrest and charge this self-purported, high level, international narcotics trafficker/money launderer. Once again, we demonstrate our collective investigative acumen showing that the work of HSI New York with the DEA Strike Force and NYPD is unyielding, and we will persist to make sure deadly drugs do not reach our communities.”
“Today’s sentencing demonstrates the investigative efforts of New York City law enforcement and our dedication to stop the threat that narcotics trafficking poses to public safety. I commend and thank the NYPD investigators involved in this investigation in addition to our colleagues at the U.S. Attorney, Eastern District, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations for building such a strong conspiracy case,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.
LaCola’s arrest arose out of a long-term investigation by the DEA and IRS-CI of local narcotics trafficking and distribution in New York City. Between April 2018 and December 2018, LaCola conspired with others to import kilograms of cocaine from Mexico into the United States. Unbeknownst to LaCola, one of the individuals with whom he was negotiating a multi-kilogram deal was cooperating with the DEA. In his meetings with this individual, LaCola offered his services as a large-scale cocaine distributor in Staten Island and as a money launderer for narcotics traffickers. The defendant arranged for the individual to try a 100-gram sample of his cocaine, after which he attempted to negotiate a deal for regular shipments of multi-kilogram loads of cocaine. LaCola informed the individual that the sample he provided came from a 10-kilogram shipment he had received and that he could regularly provide the individual with 10 to 15 kilograms of cocaine from his sources of supply in Mexico.
LaCola also offered his services as a money launderer for narcotics traffickers. He offered to use a co-conspirator’s businesses to launder up to $300,000 a-month for another individual who turned out to also be cooperating with the DEA. The defendant facilitated the laundering of $100,000 of purported heroin trafficking proceeds. This money, in reality, came from the DEA informant.
The case was the result of an investigation by the New York Strike Force, a crime-fighting unit comprising federal, state and local law enforcement agencies supported by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. The New York OCDETF Strike Force is housed at the DEA’s New York Division and includes agents and officers of the DEA; the NYPD; the New York State Police; HSI; IRS-CI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; U.S. Secret Service; the U.S. Marshals Service; New York National Guard; the Clarkstown Police Department; U.S. Coast Guard; Port Washington Police Department; and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section. Assistant United States Attorney David J. Lizmi is in charge of the prosecution.
Staten Island, New York