PROVIDENCE — A United Parcel Service employee who has been convicted twice of trafficking kilos of heroin is charged again with drug trafficking — allegedly using the shipping service to have drugs delivered from Colombia.
Levys Tovar, 43, who lives with his girlfriend in Central Falls and his mother in Pawtucket, attracted the attention of federal authorities in November when he asked a UPS customer service supervisor to track down the location of a package.
About two weeks earlier, US Customs and Border Protection had seized a package heading from Barranquilla, Colombia, to Central Falls, that held machine equipment bearings that contained cocaine, according to an affidavit supporting an arrest warrant.
That was the package Tovar was asking about, saying he was tracking it for his neighbor. UPS Security contacted a special agent in the US Department of Homeland Security, which launched an investigation.
The neighbor didn’t exist. The package was headed for an address where Tovar lived with his girlfriend. Tovar had moved in with her in November, after living with his mother in Pawtucket.
The investigation led to connections with other mysterious drug packages from Colombia, according to court records.
While Tovar was living in Pawtucket, his neighbor was arrested in January 2022 after getting a UPS shipment from Barranquilla, Colombia: an old television that contained cocaine. Jomar Cruz-Aponte, now 26, was charged with conspiracy to possess 500 grams or more of cocaine with intent to distribute. His sentencing is pending.
In Central Falls, Tovar also lived next door to an apartment where federal agents seized a UPS parcel mailed from Barranquilla, Colombia, containing 330 grams of suspected cocaine. The person it was addressed to does not exist.
An investigation found that Tovar’s phone was used to track the status of two parcels of drugs shipped from Colombia, and another device using the internet at his mother’s house was used to track the status of three packages, including the one that led to the charging of Cruz-Aponte, according to court records.
A law-enforcement search of Tovar’s phone also found conversations and photos between Tovar and others regarding batches of drugs, with negative feedback about the quality, according to the affidavit.
Tovar’s phone also held numerous videos of gruesome executions of Hispanic men, women, and children. The killings appeared to be outside the United States. These types of videos are often filmed by drug-trafficking organizations in countries that are sources of drugs, such as Mexico and Colombia, “as a show of power to rival [organizations] and to gain compliance from individuals who may steal from, fail to pay, disobey, flee or cooperate with law enforcement,” the affidavit stated.
Tovar was out on supervised release during this latest investigation. In 2004, Tovar was charged in Florida with possession with intent to deliver a kilo or more of heroin, and sentenced to nearly five years in prison. While out on supervised release in Rhode Island, Tovar was arrested in 2011 on a charge of attempt to possess more than a kilo of heroin with intent to distribute.
Tovar is now charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute over 500 grams of cocaine and unlawful use of a communication facility (including the mails) to facilitate the distribution of a controlled substance, the US Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday. Tovar was arrested Monday and ordered detained.
A UPS spokesman said Wednesday evening that the company was aware of the incident and was cooperating with the investigation. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to make additional comments at this time, but instead defer to investigating authorities,” Jim Mayer, director of UPS media relations, said in an email. Tovar’s position with UPS was not identified.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Stacey A. Erickson and investigated by Homeland Security Investigations’ Northeast Corridor Border Enforcement Team, Custom and Border Protection, and the Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence, and Warwick police departments.
This story was updated to include comment from UPS.
Amanda Milkovits can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMilkovits.