Two Veterans Affairs Medical Center employees were arrested last week for using VA facilities to smuggle and deal cocaine, the Department of Justice recently announced.
Robert Tucker and Erik Casiano had been using the U.S. Postal Service and the mailroom of a VA Medical Center in the Bronx to receive and distribute cocaine since “at least November 2013,” according to the press release. Tucker has worked for the VA since 1997, and in 2012 was promoted to supervisor of the Logistics Warehouse and Mail Center. Casiano, a pipefitter in the plumbing department, had worked for the center since 2012.
All told, the two attempted to distribute over 5 kilograms of cocaine. If found guilty, they each face a minimum of 10 years in prison, and could be jailed for life.
The investigation began in December 2013 when a package addressed to the center caught the attention of postal inspectors in Puerto Rico, who discovered 2 kilograms of cocaine inside. Undercover investigators watched the pair receive and exchange such packages four times before finally busting them after Tucker was caught on video surveillance handing one over to Casiano in exchange for $500. Casiano was arrested while attempting to drive away with the package. One kilogram of cocaine was seized from his car.
According to Narcotic News, 1 kilogram of cocaine can fetch up to $35,000 in New York City.
This isn’t the only VA Center that’s had drug issues this year. In August it came to light that an Alabama clinic had failed to fire an employee who had repeatedly taken recovering addicts to crackhouses and helped them buy drugs, despite an investigation outing him over a year ago, and in March a crack-addicted VA employee in Florida was found guilty of trading veterans’ personal information for more crack. (RELATED: Florida Veterans Affairs Hospital Threw Out State Inspectors)
“As alleged, the defendants used the cover of a facility dedicated to caring for our nation’s heroes to further a scheme to distribute large amounts of cocaine,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “I would like to thank the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Police for their outstanding work on this case.”