NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Police have busted a suspected cocaine drug trafficking ring in Nashville and arrested 8 people Monday. The leader of the so-called Berly Drug Trafficking Organization is believed to be 21-year-old Jorge Berly, also known as Maykin Espana.
Police seized 27 kilos of cocaine worth more than $1 million on the street from a home on Valley Forge Court in La Vergne.
"Nobody lived in this house. This house was specifically rented just to store cocaine, and the cocaine was found in concealed compartments in the residence," DEA Agent Charlie Gravat said.
"This was a sophisticate and well armed group of people that we believe is responsible for bringing more than one hundred pounds of cocaine into the Nashville area per month," Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson said.
Police said the Berly Drug Trafficking Organization ran cocaine and marijuana from Mexico through Ontario, California and then to places like Blue Mountain, Mississippi and finally to Antioch and La Vergne.
49-year-old truck driver Van Smith is accused of helping move the drugs across the country with his 18-wheeler.
"Once they got here they were secured in a stash house and then from the stash house this organization, Mister Berly and his confederates would sell the drugs in predominantly Davidson County and North Rutherford County," Agent Gravat said.
The drugs would then be moved to other vehicles.
37-year-old Victor Quijada is accused of modifying vehicles to build hidden compartments. Police said he actually drove $40,000 to the cocaine supplier.
One of the stash houses used to store cocaine, cash and weapons is on Creekview Drive in Antioch. Chris Moore lives in the neighborhood.
"I wouldn't have known it was there, and I walk that neighborhood. When I go for a daily walk I walk that neighborhood. No you could never know," Moore said.
Berly's wife and father in-law have also been charged in the case. 21-year-old Ilena Renya Llerena and 39-year-old Juan Reyna are accused of counting the money and getting it ready to be sent to the drug supplier.
In addition to the cocaine, police also seized 14 weapons, 13 vehicles, 3 motorcycles and 2 bullet proof vests. Also charged in the case 39-year-old Jose Velasquez, 35-year-old Edwin Palma and 27-year-old Luis Colon.
Police searched Jose Velasquez home on Monday and discovered more than 59 pounds of cocaine. Police said he was also part of setting up the arrangement between Berly and Smith for the transportation between California and Nashville.
Edwin Palma was found in possession of a key to a gold Toyota truck that was found in the closed garage of a home at 172 Bill Stewart Boulevard in Lavergne, which was an empty "stash house". Police found hidden compartments within the walls containing a fully loaded AK-47 rifle, money wrappers, a money counter, vacuum sealing bags and a vacuum sealer.
Luis Colon allegedly guarded the "stash house" on Creekview Drive. He was at the house on Monday when police executed the search warrant. They discovered two guns under his mattress, an assault-type rifle in a bedroom, and a gun inside a kitchen cabinet.
The organization is alleged to have been responsible for the shipment of more than 100 pounds of nearly pure cocaine per month into Nashville.
The eight suspects in the case are in jail. They're all being held on bonds ranging from $750,000 to $1.5 million.
The 16-month investigation was led by Metro police officers with the 20th Judicial District Drug Task Force and the Specialized Investigations Division, the DEA, TBI, the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office, and the Smyrna and La Vergne departments.