Two Portland men accused of running a cocaine smuggling and distribution operation were arrested Sunday night after a phone tap investigation conducted jointly by the FBI and Portland police.

Nelson Calderon, 44, and Mustafa Hassan, 33, appeared in U.S. District Court in Portland on Monday to face one charge each of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Magistrate Judge John H. Rich III ordered them both held temporarily pending detention hearings later this month.

Investigators tracked text messages between the two men starting in January, deciphering the codes they used to determine amounts of drugs and the locations Calderon was selling hard cocaine and powdered cocaine to Hassan to distribute, according to an affidavit filed with the court by Daniel Hondo, a Portland police officer assigned to an FBI task force.

After intercepting more text messages between the men Sunday evening in which Hassan allegedly arranged to buy a half-ounce of crack and a half-ounce of powdered cocaine, officers conducting undercover surveillance outside Calderon’s West End apartment watched him leave from the rear of 44 Salem St., Hondo wrote.

Shortly thereafter, officers pulled over a black Lincoln sedan that Hassan was driving with Calderon in the passenger seat and placed them under arrest. Calderon had a little more than a half-ounce each of powder and crack cocaine on him and $1,200 in cash. Hassan had $283 in cash, according to Hondo’s affidavit.

Officers later executed a search warrant for Calderon’s basement apartment at 44 Salem St., and seized nearly 469 grams of powder cocaine and 174 grams of crack cocaine, the affidavit said.

The total street value of the seized cocaine was more than $70,000, according to the amounts cited by Hondo as he deciphered text messages in his affidavit.

If convicted, Calderon and Hassan face up to 20 years each in federal prison and a fine of as much as $1 million.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

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