Family accused in mom-and-pop coke business

February 15, 2008 6:23:46 PM PST
Police on Friday arrested a family on charges they ran a mom-and-pop cocaine business for more than 20 years out of their Queens home. Jose Castano, 55, his wife Myriam Valencia, 54, their 17-year-old son Anthony, 22-year-old daughter Hillen and a 25-year-old man named Robert Brennen believed to be Hillen's husband were arrested at their home Friday morning, detectives said. Castano was charged with cocaine possession, selling drugs and intent to sell, Detective Stephen Jones said. The rest of the family faces charges of possession and intent to sell.

After their arrest, family members requested a lawyer and were in custody, detectives said. Police didn't know if they had an attorney yet; there was no phone listing for Castano at the address provided by police.

Jones said undercover police bought drugs from the family at least nine times between early December and early February before they went to the home with a search warrant and found 12 ounces of cocaine, various narcotics paraphernalia and 250 distribution-ready packs of cocaine about the size of a stick of gum. The drugs were worth at least $7,000, Jones said.

"This was a family-run operation," Jones said, adding detectives believe they kept the operation small on purpose to avoid getting caught.

No one in the family has a previous criminal record. Police also discovered a trap door in a car registered to Jose Castano, possibly used to transport drugs.

The single-family home was immaculate when detectives searched for the drugs, Jones said. The children were students; the parents were on disability, police said.


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