Courts back on track one week after Hurricane Sandy

Brooklyn courts are back in a big way as the borough marks a week since Sandy’s visit.

Courts were closed on Election Day, but eight trials were slated to either begin or continue on Nov. 7 as this paper went to press — a major improvement from the little work that was done after Hurricane Sandy blew through the borough.

Courts across the city were only opened for arrignments from last Wednesday through Friday. Only one jury trial was in session.

Officials told the Daily News that just more than 1,000 people came into Brooklyn Supreme Court on Wednesday — about a quarter of its usual traffic.

Still, it was important to get the wheels of justice turning again, court officials say.

“We felt it’s absolutely crucial to keep our doors open whenever humanly possible, and we accomplished that mission,” said David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the court system.

Drug kingpin faces life

A Mexican national accused of transporting more than two tons of cocaine through Brooklyn for distribution to the five boroughs is facing life in prison now that he’s pleaded guilty to drug charges.

Esteban Rodriguez-Olivera, who the FBI extradicted to the U.S. in March, admitted to running the drug muling operation that brought narcotics from Mexico to New York City.

Federal prosecutors said that Rodriguez-Olivera was one of two brothers running Los Gueros, an international drug organization responsible for shopping more than 100 tons of cocaine to the United states. In addition to pleading to charges in the U.S., Rodriguez-Olivera pleaded guilty to similar charges in Columbia, explained U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.

Drug Enforcement Agency investigators working in both New York, Texas, and Guadalajara, Mexico, uncovered the trail.

In 2007, the United States Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force designated the defendant and his brother, Luis Rodriguez-Olivera, drug kingpins, adding them to the list of the world’s most significant narcotics traffickers and money launderers. Los Gueros’s supply route originated in Mexico, stretched into Texas, and branched off to various points within the United States, including the New York City metropolitan area. The organization received multi-ton shipments of cocaine from Colombia along the Gulf coast of Mexico, and transported drug shipments into the United States through Laredo and McAllen, Texas.

For the period of 1996 to 2008, Los Gueros imported more than 100,000 kilograms of cocaine into the United States, and the Agency estimates that from between 2004 and 2006, the organization was responsible for shipping truckloads containing more than 2,000 kilograms (two tons) of cocaine to New York City alone. As part of the investigation, in October 2004, agents seized approximately 156 kilograms of cocaine hidden in one of the organization’s tractor-trailers; in 2005, agents seized approximately $2.1 million in drug proceeds bound for the organization in Mexico; and in January 2006, Mexican authorities seized approximately 5.2 tons of the organization’s cocaine destined for the United States.

Reach reporter Thomas Tracy at ttracy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2525.

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