Rooms of Three Hotels in Palm Beach,
The Breakers, Ritz-Carlton and the Four Seasons,
Used as Shipping Drop Locations in Marijuana Trafficking Scheme
|By Rachael Joyner, South Florida
Sun-SentinelMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sep. 8, 2007 -- Police went to The Breakers hotel in Palm Beach expecting to investigate a suspicious package and ended up charging a man with trafficking nearly 50 pounds of marijuana.
Authorities arrested Eduardo Cazadero-Vazquez, 30, after he allegedly tried to pick up a package Wednesday with 15 pounds of marijuana.
The Breakers' mail room received a heavily taped large box via UPS from El Cajon, Calif., addressed to "Hector Prada." When they discovered they had no guests under that name they called police, who dispatched the bomb squad.
After the box was deemed safe and the bomb squad left, hotel security opened it and found a 5-gallon paint bucket with four large bricks of marijuana inside covered in red greasy fluid. They again notified the police.
At about 2:30 p.m. a man identifying himself as Prada called the mail room, and a hotel employee told him to pick the package up by 5 p.m.
The man, later identified as Cazadero-Vazquez, of Mexico, came to retrieve the package at 5:40 p.m. Police said he showed the concierge desk a picture identification bearing Prada's name, but they told him to come back tomorrow because the mail room was closed.
As Cazadero-Vazquez left The Breakers, plainclothes detectives arrested him near his vehicle, a 2007 black Suzuki SUV with a Florida tag. According to records, the SUV was a rental.
Police found $1,450 on Cazadero-Vazquez and 20 identification cards with his picture and different names, said Palm Beach police spokeswoman Janet Kinsella. They also saw two large boxes in the SUV, one with a UPS sticker, similar to the box shipped to The Breakers.
The boxes were picked up the same day from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Manalapan and the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach, according to court documents. Each contained marijuana, 17.5 and 16.8 pounds, packaged similarly to the box found at The Breakers. Together the three boxes held 49.3 pounds of pot.
Police also found records that showed fictitious names and codes Cazadero-Vazquez used to pick up packages -- all shipped from California -- at locations ranging from New York to South Florida.
Cazadero-Vazquez is charged with trafficking in marijuana and possession of fictitious identification. He's being held at the county jail on $100,000 bond, according to the State Attorney's Office. A court date has not been set.
Kerry Shorr, spokeswoman for the Four Seasons, said they are cooperating with local authorities.
She declined to comment further since the case is under investigation.
"It's odd," Ritz-Carlton General Manager Brad Cance said. The hotel had no records of the package being picked up or guests under the name Cazadero-Vazquez or Prada, he said.
He's puzzled that Cazadero-Vazquez would have sent the packages to a hotel like the Ritz-Carlton.
"He increased the risk for himself," Cance said. "We have a process for these kinds of things like The Breakers."
If the hotel gets a package addressed to a person who's not a guest it's held for 48 hours then either sent back to the shipper or reported to the police, he said.
But for guests it's a different story.
"If a guest was doing this, it would be pretty easy. People ship boxes all the time," Cance said. "There are ways to get away with something like this if you're smart enough."
Rachael Joyner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-243-6633.
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