Traffic stop leads to drug bust


Suspects William Cabanillas, 25, left, and Juan Manzo, 30, both of White Plains, were apprehended during a traffic stop along Westchester Avenue in Harrison. Both men were charged with eight felony counts for possession of narcotics. Contributed photos

A traffic stop along the Westchester Avenue corridor on July 22 led Harrison police to arrest two men from White Plains for possession of illegal narcotics. The suspects were apprehended on eight felony charges and were committed to county jail.

According to police, at approximately 10:45 a.m. the arresting officer pulled over a red Acura Integra along the exit ramp for the Hutchinson River Parkway south after observing the driver make a right from a left turn only lane.

“While directly behind the vehicle, the officer observed the front seat passenger make a quick movement, as if to attempt to conceal something under the front seat,” police said.

After interviewing the driver, 25-year-old William Cabanillas of White Plains, the officer reported a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. Both Cabanillas and his passenger, Juan Manzo, 30, were placed under arrest at the scene for unlawful possession of marijuana and the vehicle was towed back to the Harrison Police Station on North Street.

“Police dogs were utilized after the car was brought back to headquarters,” said Harrison Police Lt. Eddie Lucas. “Other than marijuana, we found narcotics secreted in the trunk of the car.”

According to Lucas, a K-9 search of the vehicle revealed more marijuana, two ounces of cocaine, 17 grams of MDMA—which police have classified as “Moon Rocks of Molly”—114 pills of oxycodone, 90 pills of clonazepam, 15 pills of hydrocone, 20 grams of hashish, and numerous packaging bags and weighing materials with a collective street value of approximately $20,000.

Both suspects were arrested on eight felony charges, which, based on the state penal code includes: one count of criminal possession of a controlled substance, three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell, one count of possession of a hallucinogenic substance weighing more than five grams, two counts of possession of one or more compounds, mixtures or substances containing a narcotic drug, with an aggregate weight of one-half ounce or more, and one count of criminal possession of a hallucinogenic substance weighing one gram or more with the intent to sell. All but one of the charges facing the two men are class B felonies.

Police said that, after additional investigative work performed by members of the department, Harrison police found that the passenger, Manzo, may have ties to La Mara Salvatrucha—more commonly referred to as MS-13—a Salvadorian gang that has been labeled as one of the fastest growing in the country.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the MS-13 has continued expanding its influence nationwide, with members identified in 42 states in the country. The gang’s growing population even led the FBI to establish the MS-13 National Gang Task Force in 2004, which is designed to help coordinate the investigative efforts of federal, state and local agencies.

After being transported to county jail, Cabanillas was released on $5,000 bail. Meanwhile, Manzo was released on his own recognizance, as the district attorney’s office is still processing a report. Although both men have already been arraigned in town court for the eight felony charges brought against them, they are still awaiting sentencing. Both cases have been adjourned to Aug. 27.