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WAKEFIELD - Miguel Fernandez drove an unassuming tan minivan with dark windows and a missing right front hubcap, but for at least four months he drew the attention of police in Wakefield.

On Tuesday afternoon, Fernandez, a 41-year-old Mexican citizen who lives in Nashua, drove to an address on New Salem Street, and before he was able to get out of the van, was surrounded by Wakefield police and federal agents. Inside the van, according to authorities, they found about $20,000 worth of cocaine and $1,985 in cash.
"This is a lot of cocaine," Police Chief Rick Smith said yesterday at an afternoon news conference. On display on a table next to him were the drugs, neatly wrapped in about 30 small plastic bags and enclosed in larger clear plastic bags, and the money, a thick fold of bills, inside another plastic bag. "That's a lot of cocaine for Wakefield. It's a lot of cocaine for a lot of towns and municipalities."
Fernandez was charged in Malden District Court yesterday with cocaine trafficking and held on $150,000 cash bail. He faces another arraignment in Lowell District Court on a similar charge, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a detention request for him, Smith said.
Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone praised the cooperation between local and federal agencies in the bust.
"I want to particularly commend Chief Smith and the Wakefield Police Department for their focused, coordinated efforts in investigating drug crimes," Leone said. "Their efforts not only resulted in this significant arrest, but will continue to make Wakefield a safer place for its children and families."
Smith declined to elaborate on the investigation or whether the department - which worked with other area police forces, the FBI, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration - expects to make other arrests in connection with the case. He did say, however, that the case relied heavily on informants and undercover officers. "This was a very tangled web that involved a lot of people," he said.
According to court records, authorities received a tip from an informant that Fernandez was planning a sale on New Salem Street.
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