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Drug Cartel Busted with $1.2M Stash of Meth Set Free, While Heroic Bodega Worker Was Held on $250K Bail

New York, New York, it’s a hell of a town. No, seriously, it is. I’m not invoking the old standard from the musical “On the Town.” It’s a crime-ridden melange of failed progressive policies, the kind of place where drug cartel members who allegedly got caught with over $1 million of meth got set free on supervised release while a bodega worker who fought back against an ex-con that was attacking him was being held on $250,000 bond on murder charges. Talk about priorities. (This is what happens when you elect progressive politicians and district attorneys, as The Western Journal has chronicled. We’ll keep bringing America the truth about the failed reform policies of the left. You can help by subscribing.) According to the New York Post, the alleged drug smugglers were two Californians, Luis Estrada and Carlos Santos. Authorities first captured Estrada with 40 pounds of meth in a suitcase outside a hotel near Lower Manhattan’s South Street Seaport, according to a statement. Santos was taken into custody three days later with over 100 pounds of meth in two air compressor canisters he was in the process of cutting open. The drugs are believed to have originated in Mexico, authorities said, and Santos drove them across country in a rented vehicle. ““Methamphetamine is running rampant throughout the country causing addiction, overdoses, and poisonings. This year, DEA has seen methamphetamine seizures in New York increase 1300% since 2021 indicating New York is a bullseye for traffickers,” said Frank A. Tarentino III, special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division. “This seizure is a calculated treachery by Mexican Cartels to flood the United States with their poison and expand their customer base while driving addiction and increasing profit margins.” But despite the fact the street value of the meth was over $1.2 million, New York’s bail laws make it impossible to keep either man behind bars. Instead, the Post reported “frustrated agents had to stand by and watch as the suspects were cut loose on just supervised release, the federal agency said. “That’s because the two men could only be charged with second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, as opposed to a narcotic, under the state’s outdated drug laws, authorities said. And the rap does not qualify for bail according to the Empire State’s soft-on-crime 2019 bail-reform measures, they said.” “This is a serious problem,” said New York City special narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan. “The failure to include methamphetamine crimes among bail-eligible offenses was probably an oversight. At the time the bail laws were changed, New York City was not a distribution hub for methamphetamine. Now it is, and we are unable to even ask for bail, even if we arrest someone with no ties to the city and a load worth millions of dollars.” Whether or not this was an oversight remains debatable — you would think criminal justice experts would be aware meth remains a popular substance which could (and did) experience a resurgence in popularity — the bail laws themselves were the fruit of the progressive criminal justice reform movement, the same movement that brought controversial George Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to power. However, Bragg’s office has found a defendant he thinks it’s worth throwing the book at: Jose Alba, a 51-year-old bodega worker. According to Fox News, Alba was arrested last week and sent to NYC’s notorious Riker’s Island prison on $250,000 bail and a murder charge after he defended himself against a customer who attacked him on July 1. Austin Simon was killed after Alba defended himself with a kitchen knife. Problems began when Simon’s girlfriend tried to buy snack items at the bodega with an electronic benefits card. After the transaction was declined, the criminal complaint said a “verbal dispute” ensued. “Informant observed the defendant reach over the counter, grab her daughter’s hand and seize the item from her daughter’s hand after the transaction was declined,” the complaint said. “Informant then left the store and informed her boyfriend, Austin Simon, of the clerk’s actions and returned to the store with Mr. Simon, who went behind the counter of the store to confront the clerk.” Simon came behind the counter and “pushed the defendant once and spoke to him while the defendant sat in a chair behind the counter.” When Simon tried to “steer” Alba out from behind the counter, Alba “picked up a kitchen knife that was stashed behind the counter and stabbed Mr. Simon in the neck and chest at least five times.” Unbelievably, the $250,000 bail is half of what Bragg’s office wanted. Doubly unbelievably, prosecutors said Alba was a flight risk because he had a scheduled trip back to the Dominican Republic, his native country. If they think he’s a flight risk, how would they define those two drug cartel members? Alba had no criminal history, while Simon had spent time behind bars for assaulting a police officer. Bragg, at least, may be coming to his senses on the Alba case; a report Tuesday indicated he told a group of city bodega owners there was a definite chance he’d drop the charges. “We felt very good because his tone was very soothing. His demeanor was very direct, and he said, ‘I don’t understand why people are jumping to conclusions. I have not made a determination. I am investigating,’” said United Bodegas of America representative Fernando Mateo, according to the New York Post. “I asked, ‘Do the possibilities exist that you will drop these charges?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely.’” That still doesn’t erase the fact this is a city where two high-level drug dealers are on supervised release and a bodega worker who says he acted in self-defense is sent to Rikers Island on a quarter-million in bail. A hell of a town, indeed. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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