New York – The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) took into custody March 2 two high-profile fugitive drug traffickers wanted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York (USAO SDNY).
In November 2004, Thomas Sanders was indicted in the Southern District of New York on narcotics conspiracy charges after he led the New York Police Department Queens Gang Unit on a high-speed chase in the town of Valley Stream, N.Y., before crashing his vehicle and fleeing on foot. Investigators searched the vehicle and found 69 kilograms of cocaine.
The U.S. Marshals Service adopted the Sanders case in December 2004. The investigation was deemed a U.S. Marshals Service Major Case and was added to the New York State top 100 list and the case went cold.
USMS investigators recently developed information that Sanders had assumed the new identify of Franklin Maldonado Santos and was residing in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with a new wife and two children.
On March 1, members of the Special Directorate for the Search of Rebels and Fugitives (SDSRF), an elite fugitive apprehension unit composed of Dominican military members and federal agents, located and arrested Sanders in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Sanders had no legal status in the Dominican Republic and was deported the following day, via John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, where he was met by members of the U.S. Marshals Service New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force who transported him to the Southern District of New York for processing.
Reggie Chin, wanted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service on firearms charges and narcotics conspiracy charges, was a member of the John Shop Crew, an organized drug trafficking ring with concentrated operations in the northern Bronx from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s.
In 2002, the Drug Enforcement Administration began arresting John Shop crew members, leading to the indictment on federal charges of more than 20 members, all of whom were found guilty at trial, except for Chin, who was already on the run.
The U.S. Marshals Service determined that Chin was using multiple aliases and had a record of multiple arrests by the New York Police Department and Philadelphia Police Department for firearms violations and narcotics conspiracy and distribution.
A major break in the case came in January from a positive ID on an arrest photo that helped investigators identify Chin's family members and close associates. The team developed information that a female associate had recently traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, and was due to return to the United States on March 2.
Acting on the possibility that Chin would be at the airport, U.S. Marshals Service investigators set up surveillance at the airport and observed the woman exit the terminal and walk toward a blue BMW sedan. DUSMs recognized an individual matching Chin's description step out of the vehicle and he was taken into custody without incident.
"This cold case achievement demonstrates the interminable determination of the United States Marshals Service's commitment to the capture of fugitives," said Ralph Sozio, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of New York. "It is through the dedicated, determined and coordinated efforts of the United States Marshals Service, along with our law enforcement partners that two dangerous fugitives were apprehended after evading capture for 17 years."