Clockwise from upper left: Sandra Valdez, Eduardo Avalos, Luis Maldonado-Velasquez, Jose Solorzano, Mercedes Manjarrez-Torres and Luis Ocampo.
Clockwise from upper left: Sandra Valdez, Eduardo Avalos, Luis Maldonado-Velasquez, Jose Solorzano, Mercedes Manjarrez-Torres and Luis Ocampo. (Commonwealth of PA Attorney General's Office)

Four of the five York County residents charged for their alleged involvement in a major drug trafficking ring are in York County Prison on $750,000 bail.

Mercedes Manjarrez-Torres, 39, 216 Penn St., Hanover; Jose Guadalupe Solorzano, 35, 972 ½ Carlisle St., Hanover; and Eduardo Avalos, 23, and Luis Ocampo, 52, both 2510 West Market St., Apt. B, West Manchester Township; remain in county prison on $750,000 bail, according to court records.

The fifth person, Sandra Valdez, 20, also of 2510 West Market St., Apt. B, remains in York County Prison on $500,000 bail, the records state.

The state attorney general's office alleges that the five York County residents, along with Luis Maldonado-Velasquez, 35, 1036 Derry St., Harrisburg, participated in a $4.8 million trafficking ring that saw cocaine brought to York County from Mexico.

Maldonado-Velasquez is in a state correctional institute, but a state spokeswoman couldn't confirm which one.

"A $4.8 million cocaine ring is a lot of cocaine coming into York County. It's a fairly significant bust for our region," said Lauren Bozart, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office.

Charges: The six defendants, who were arraigned before West Manchester Township District Judge Keith Albright, are charged with the following:

* Eduardo Avalos is charged with five counts of delivery of cocaine and one count of criminal conspiracy.

* Luis Maldonado-Velasquez is charged with two counts of delivery of cocaine and one count of possession with the intent to deliver cocaine.

* Mercedes Manjarrez-Torres is charged with two counts of delivery of cocaine and one count of criminal conspiracy.

* Luis Ocampo is charged with eight counts of delivery of cocaine, one count of possession with the intent to deliver cocaine, one count of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity and one count of criminal conspiracy.

* Jose Guadalupe Solorzano is charged with two counts of delivery of cocaine, one count of possession with the intent to deliver cocaine and one count of criminal conspiracy.

* Sandra Valdez is charged with one count of possession with the intent to deliver cocaine and one count of criminal conspiracy.

Special delivery: The investigation, known as "Operation Special Delivery," alleges the six defendants were involved in trafficking bulk quantities of cocaine from Mexico to York County by using Federal Express packages, Attorney General Kathleen Kane said in a news release.

One such package contained a decorative lighted garden stone with a kilo of cocaine hidden inside.

One of the La Santa Muerte shrines removed during the York cocaine ring bust on Wednesday, July 31.
One of the La Santa Muerte shrines removed during the York cocaine ring bust on Wednesday, July 31. (Commonwealth of PA Attorney General's Office)
Also in the package were two electronic scales and faxed paperwork from Ocampo to a fax number in Mexico, the release says.

After agents identified Maldonado-Velasquez as a significant distributor of cocaine in York County, they began investigating his alleged cocaine source, Ocampo, according to the grand jury.

The investigation alleges that Ocampo and at least three others were collectively distributing between three and four kilos of cocaine every month throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey, Bozart said.

"Being that most of them were from York County, a lot of the drugs were also distributed in central Pennsylvania," she said. "Our office has seen an increase in drugs coming from Mexico."

Sainthood: Agents seized more than 1,700 grams of cocaine, approximately $26,000, five vehicles and several La Santa Muerte statues from Solorzano's residence, according to a news release.

La Santa Muerte, which is Spanish for "Saint Death," has become a "narco patron saint" in the Mexican drug community, agents said.

The statues are popular among drug cartels, which allegedly believe the saint will protect them from law enforcement and other cartel members, according to a news release.

Shrines typically include money, lines of cocaine or blood that are given as sacrifices to the saint, the release says.

The case will be prosecuted in York County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Heather Adams of the Attorney General's Drug Strike Force Section.

- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com. Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.