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Dunkirk couple held on cocaine distribution charges

A Dunkirk man and woman each face a mandatory minimum of five years in prison following their arrest on cocaine charges, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Minerva Maestre, 49, and Hector Mercado-Torres, 23, were arrested following an April 28 raid at their East Second Street residence in Dunkirk. Both were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine, as well as distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine, and maintaining a drug involved premises. The maximum penalty if convicted on the charges is 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch, who is handling the case, said officers from the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration seized 18 packages of suspect crack cocaine and cocaine, plastic baggies and $171,962 cash in the April 28 raid on their East Second Street residence. U.S. officials also alleged that the couple distributed crack cocaine from their residence.

Maestre and Mercado-Torres both made an initial appearance Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy and were both held pending a detention hearing, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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