City Man Pleads Guilty to Eluding and First-Degree Cocaine Distribution

SOMERVILLE, NJ—A 38-year-old New Brunswick man who allegedly crashed into a police car after picking up a package filled with five kilograms of cocaine has pled guilty to two different charges, according to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office (SCPO).

Elvin Guzman-Rodriguez, also known as Joel Matos Santiago, lives on Sanford Street, according to authorities, but he'll be spending the next several years in state prison as part of a plea deal reached with prosecutors.

As part of the agreement, Guzman-Rodriguez pled guilty to 1st-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and 2nd-degree eluding.

The plea deal was struck on on January 27, almost fifteen months after the chaotic afternoon that led to the arrest of Guzman-Rodriguez and two others.

Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson stated that his office "received information that a parcel containing CDS would be delivered to a North Dover Avenue residence in Franklin Township," on October 8, 2015.

SCPO Detectives teamed up with U.S. Postal Inspection Officers and "intercepted" two packages at the Franklin Township Post Office addressed to a Jessica Rodriguez, who lived on Dover Avenue in Franklin.

The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office canine “Apex” was dispatched to assist and "conducted an external sniff of both packages and gave a positive indication for CDS being present in both packages," according to authorities.

Police later estimated the cocaine contained in the packages had an "approximate street value" of $500,000.

A surveillance team set up shop near the Dover Avenue home and obseerved Guzman-Rodriguez leave the area in a black Acura TSX as soon as the packages arrived around 3:30pm.

Victor M. Santana-Ricardo allegedly told the postal officer that he was the husband of Jessica Rodriguez, to whom the packages were addressed, and asked him to put the packages on the front steps of the house.

Then Guzman-Rodriguez returned and put the packages in the back seat of the Acura, and started driving towards Hamilton Street "at a high rate of speed," according to the SCPO press release.

Detectives attempted to pull over the Acura while Guzman-Rodriguez made "evasive maneuvers" eventually striking a police vehicle on Park Street.

After arresting Guzman-Rodriguez, detectives obtained a search warrant from a Superior Court Judge to search the Acura, seizing the two packages containing the five kilos of cocaine.

In exchange for his guilty plea, the State recommended a sentence of eleven years in the state prison with forty months of parole ineligibility.

Defendant is scheduled to be sentenced on March 31 before the Superior Court Judge Kathy C. Qasim.

Both Victor Santana-Ricardo and Jessica Rodriguez were arrested at the Dover Avenue home "without incident."  It's unclear from the SCPO press release if charges against them are still pending.

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Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.