An Andover man charged with trafficking cocaine and two counts of illegal firearms possession, is being held on $5 million cash bail following his arraignment Monday in Lawrence District Court.
Last Friday, Jose Martinez, 51, of 123 Chestnut St. in Andover, who was being tailed by State Police drug detectives, was caught with 105 pounds of cocaine in the back of his Dodge Durango. Police said the drugs carry a street sales value of $4.5 million and the bust is believed to be the largest in Essex County in recent history.
Prosecutor Kelleen Forlizzi requested the high bail calling Martinez an “extreme flight risk.” Forlizzi pointed to his previous access to large amounts of cash, adding Martinez, who was born in the Dominican Republic, also has ties in Florida and California.
If convicted, Martinez faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 12 years in prison, Forlizzi said.
Defense attorney Victoria Ranieri argued that Martinez has no previous record and lives in Andover with his wife of 14 years. She asked for bail at $10,000.
It appears that Martinez recently moved to town and is renting or leasing his home. The town clerk’s office said Martinez registered to vote in the November 2012 general election from the Chestnut Street address. The town assessor’s office said this Chestnut Street property is owned by another man, who couldn’t be reached for comment.
Drug detectives were watching Martinez as part of a “large scale” investigation into “drug trafficking networks in the Merrimack Valley area,” Forlizzi said.
In October, Martinez, 51, had $100,000 seized from him at a Los Angeles airport. When questioned, Martinez “had no logical reason for having this money,” detectives said.
In March, Martinez, allegedly placed nearly $1 million cash in a tractor-trailer unit parked behind the Holiday Inn in Tewksbury. Drug detectives later found the money stashed in pallets of boxes of plastic forks, knives, spoons and napkins, according to court papers.