ELIZABETH – Colombian authorities arrested the reputed final member of one of Union County’s most notorious drug rings last week, and local authorities are working on his extradition to the United States.
Alejandro Cleves, 28, was arrested in Colombia on Aug. 12. At one point, the reputed drug kingpin was allegedly responsible for shipping between three and six kilograms of heroin a week to parts of the east coast from New York to Florida.
Cleves was allegedly part of a drug rung that once included corrupt State Police trooper Moises Hernandez. His arrest resulted from months of negotiations between the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Colombian authorities.
Cleves had been on Union County investigators’ radar for about five years. They had surveillance information that they say proved that Cleves was a major supplier of heroin and cocaine in New Jersey, but he was long gone by the time detectives launched a raid on the operation in April 2005.
During the past two years, defendants from Hernandez to drug dealer Wilson Valdez, stuck deals with prosecutors. Hernandez, a one-time undercover operative assigned to narcotics, admitted to alerting Valdez when he was under surveillance. Hernandez admitted to profiting from the drug business, which enabled him to put a $50,000 cash down payment on a $98,000 Mercedes. Under the terms of the plea, Hernandez is serving 24 years in prison.
In a plea deal, Valdez admitted that Cleves was his chief supplier. Valdez is serving 20 years in prison, 10 without parole. Cleves’ mother, Nidia Roldan, was a minor player in the drug ring according to the prosecutor’s office. She also cooperated with authorities.
Cleves was born in Columbia but moved to New Jersey at age 7. He became a small-time dealer, but mounting drug charges eventually encouraged him to flee the country, according to authorities. While in Colombia, Cleves allegedly established himself as a major figure in the drug business with the help of American associates like Valdez.