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Drug smuggling suspects are believed to be acting on behalf of Mexican cartel

April 2, 2011 |  6:38 pm

A Downey man and another from Hacienda Heights were charged in federal court in Rhode Island this week for allegedly smuggling 65 kilos of cocaine, valued at $6.6 million, from California for a Mexican drug cartel.

Authorities said that as part of the case they’d also seized $1.2 million in cash from a storage locker in the town of North Kingstown when they arrested the men in January, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Rhode Island.

Andrew Rios, 39, of Downey, and Armando Saucedo, 30, of Hacienda Heights, were arrested and charged under Rhode Island law. Federal charges, filed this week, carry much longer sentences served without parole.

They were charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine, along with another man, Adilson Antonio Reyes, 29, of Utah, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Rhode Island.

According to Associated Press reports, Reyes admitted in court documents to driving large shipments of cocaine from California to Rhode Island. The operation allegedly used a tractor-trailer and a tow truck to move cocaine to a storage facility. From there, it was sent across New England, state police have said.

Authorities did not name the cartel for which the men allegedly worked.

The case is part of an investigation that began in September into cocaine trafficking into Rhode Island. Detectives focused on hotels in the towns of Pawtucket and West Greenwich.

--Sam Quinones