Ramon Read, a.k.a. Carlos Aldorando, 49, of the Dominican Republic, pleaded guilty this week to conspiring to distribute cocaine and heroin in Maryland and New York, announced U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.

A federal grand jury previously indicted Read and 19 co-defendants for crimes arising from a three year conspiracy to import and distribute kilogram quantities of cocaine and heroin from Guatemala to the United States, including the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area.

The indictment alleges that the organization  coordinated the distribution of large quantities of drugs to numerous customers by, among other things, installing and concealing kilogram quantities of drugs in operable car batteries, using couriers to smuggle these batteries across the Mexican border into Texas, and redistributing the kilograms of cocaine and heroin to locations in Maryland such as Waldorf, Silver Spring, and Hyattsville, along with locations in New York, Washington, D.C., and Texas.

The defendants are alleged to have used proceeds from their drug distribution activities to purchase vehicles for export to Guatemala, wire money transfers from points in Maryland and other locations to individuals in Texas, Mexico and Guatemala and  smuggle bulk amounts of currency to Texas, Mexico and Guatemala.

The indictment includes charges stemming from the seizure of 8 kilograms of heroin and over 24 kilograms of cocaine, and it seeks forfeiture of $5 million in assets, including vehicles, jewelry, and over $200,000 of cash already seized.

According to the plea agreement presented to the court, from  2001 through February of 2004 Read and others conspired to import and distribute cocaine and heroin by procuring drugs from Guatemala for redistribution in and around Maryland and other states. Read obtained cocaine from a co-conspirator and sold kilogram quantities to purchasers in the New York area.  Read also collected money from an individual who purchased heroin from the co-conspirator.

During October and November of 2003, Read and the co-conspirator discussed on several occasions Read’s repayment to the co-conspirator  for purchases of kilogram quantities of cocaine, the poor quality of a shipment of heroin that the co-conspirator  had provided to Read and others, and Read’s efforts to obtain money from another co-conspirator who repeatedly purchased kilogram quantities of heroin.

On February 11, 2004, Read was arrested in New York with just over 1 kilogram of cocaine in his possession. During the course of Read’s involvement in the conspiracy, at least 15  kilograms of cocaine were distributed within the United States.

Several defendants have already pleaded guilty to felony drug trafficking offenses. Leonardo Antonio De Leon received  10 years in prison term on November 8, 2004 and Jesus Reyes Diaz received 8 years in prison on December 21, 2004.  Peter Axarlis received a 78 month sentence on January 4, 2006. George Smith is scheduled for trial before U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on June 27, 2006.

Read faces a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum penalty of life and a $4 million fine.