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Chicago Woman Arrested for Selling Fraudulent Identity Documents to Illegal Aliens
A woman was arrested Wednesday, February 13, 2013, on charges she allegedly sold fraudulent identity documents to illegal aliens. These charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigra

Tag Archives: cocaine

Key Player in Major International Drug Ring Found Guilty

 A federal jury found a Colombian man guilty Wednesday, August 22, 2012, of three drug conspiracy charges. He faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison for two of the conspiracy charges and a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison for the third charge. This case was investigated by the Panama Express South Strike Force, which consists of officers and analysts from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and the U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force South.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Laureano Angulo Riascos, 54, ofColombia, was second-in-command of the Morfi drug trafficking organization. Starting in 2000, he worked with others to smuggle hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia to Panama, using speed boats or go-fast vessels. By 2002, Riascos and others began making shipments containing thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico. The cocaine was ultimately destined for the United States.

The Morfi drug trafficking organization pioneered the design and construction of self-propelled, semi-submersible vessels and used them to smuggle cocaine. The drug traffickers built and dispatched these vessels from Mayorquin, Colombia, an area on the country’s pacific coast controlled by the 30th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The State Department has designated the 30th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia as a foreign terrorist organization. The drug traffickers paid the Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia a fee to conduct drug trafficking operations on its territory. Between 2004 and 2009, Riascos worked with others to dispatch more than 15 self-propelled, semi-submersible vessels from Mayorquin, each carrying between 2,000 and 5,000 kilograms of cocaine. The total amount of cocaine trafficked by Riascos is valued at more than $1 billion.

Riascos is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 9. He was indicted Dec. 2, 2010, and extradited to the United States from Colombia April 17.

The current suspected head of the Morfi drug trafficking organization, Jose Samir Renteria-Cuero, aka “Jose Morfi,” is in custody in Colombia. He has been indicted and is pending extradition to the Middle District of Florida for prosecution. An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

The Panama Express South Strike Force is an organized crime drug enforcement task force. These task forces identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.

24 Kilograms of Cocain Seized by HSI in Major Drug Trafficking Investigation

Twelve defendants were indicted Tuesday, August 7, 2012, in a major drug trafficking conspiracy in which large shipments of cocaine were flown by private chartered airplanes from Texas to Cleveland. These indictments follow an extensive joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Agency, and various other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

At least 24 kilograms of cocaine and $157,500 in cash were seized as part of the investigation. The conspiracy, which also included shipments of cocaine to Cleveland from Atlanta and a suburb of Chicago, included nearly 20 flights between August 2009 and March 2012, according to the indictment.

The following is a list of those indicted:

  • Johnny S. Phillips, aka “Nasty” or “Reef,” age 39, of South Euclid, Ohio;
  • Errick Phillips, aka “E” or “Ike,” age 41, of Lyndhurst, Ohio;
  • William Mangum, Jr., aka “Billy” or “Steel Bill,” age 43, of Cleveland;
  • Nora Flores, age 41, of Laredo, Texas;
  • Virginia Perez, age 35, of Laredo, Texas;
  • Rachele Lynn Munoz, age 32, of Laredo, Texas;
  • Richard A. Born, age 58, of Cleveland, Ohio;
  • Lamark Robinson, aka “Squirrel,” or “S.Q.,” age 30, of Cleveland;
  • Mark Anderson, aka “Floyd,” age 38, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio;
  • Robert Oldorff, age 52, of Cleveland;
  • John H. McDonald, age 52, of Cleveland;
  • Sharon Manchook, age 51, of Cleveland.

“This group is accused of using private airplanes to bring piles of cocaine into Cleveland,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “This case is a great example of law enforcement working together to choke off the supply of drugs that hit our streets.”

“This investigation is a sterling example of how federal, state and local law enforcement were able to successfully dismantle a major narcotics smuggling organization in the Cleveland area,” said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI for Michigan and Ohio. “HSI will continue to utilize its broad authorities to aggressively target and takedown group who are dispensing poison into our communities.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge Robert Corso said: “The investigation has successfully taken down a major cocaine trafficking organization operating in Northern Ohio. These indictments illustrate that no matter how creative drug traffickers attempt to be in order to avoid detection, when there is cooperation and communication among law enforcement agencies, conspiracies such as this will eventually be identified and eliminated.”

In addition to the conspiracy charge, defendants William Mangum, Jr., Virginia Perez, Rachele Lynn Munoz, Nora Flores, Errick Phillips and Johnny S. Phillips are also charged with interstate travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise for trips they took between Ohio and states such as Texas, Illinois and Georgia as part of the drug trafficking enterprise. Johnny S. Phillips, Richard A. Born and Sharon Manchook are also charged with distributing cocaine on two occasions, while Errick Phillips and Mark Anderson are charged with possession with intent to distribute amounts of cocaine.

The indictment describes a conspiracy in which large amounts of cocaine were flown in multiple trips to Cleveland from Laredo,Texas using private chartered airplanes. The cocaine was delivered to Johnny S. Phillips and Errick Phillips. According to the indictment, the proceeds from the cocaine were then flown back to the suppliers in Laredo, Texas.

Approximately 13 kilograms of cocaine were seized in February 2010 at the airport in Laredo, Texas, that was scheduled to be delivered to Cleveland. Cocaine was also obtained from suppliers in Illinois. In August 2010, approximately seven kilograms of cocaine that were supposed to be delivered from Illinois to Cleveland were seized in Michigan from two couriers. In January 2011, approximately four kilograms of cocaine were seized from Errick Phillips as he was traveling back from Illinois to Cleveland. Investigators also seized over $157,500 in drug proceeds from a courier in December 2010. The courier was believed to be traveling from Cleveland to Texas, according to the indictment.

The cocaine obtained from these multiple locations was then distributed through a network of dealers in the Cleveland area to lower-level dealers and users, according to the indictment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew W. Shepherd and Duncan Brown. The case was investigated through the combined efforts of the DEA, ICE HSI, FBI, United States Marshal’s Service, Ohio Highway Patrol, Erie County Prosecutor’s Office, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Narcotics Agency, Cleveland Police Department, Cleveland Heights Police Department, Euclid Police Department, Lyndhurst Police Department, North Royalton Police Department, South Euclid Police Department, and Westlake Police Department.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal records, if any, the defendants’ roles in the offenses and the characteristics of the violations.

Mexican National Sentenced for Cocaine Trafficking

A Mexican man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for trafficking cocaine, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI).

Herculano Albarran-Martinez, 43, also known as “El Nene,” was indicted in February 2010 for conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine. Albarran-Martinez pleaded guilty in October 2010 to conspiracy with intent to distribute 15-50 kilograms of cocaine, and was sentenced to 240 months of imprisonment to be followed by five years of supervised release.

According to filed documents and statements made in court, Albarran-Martinez and his
co-conspirators engaged in a drug trafficking conspiracy in the Statesville area. Case  evidence included telephone calls among the co-conspirators planning and executing
dozens of cocaine transactions, many of which were made to undercover law enforcement officers. In addition, in August 2009, while law enforcement officers executed a search warrant, they seized more than 11 kilograms of cocaine and firearms, including a MAC-10, from a stash house in High Point, N.C.

The indictment charged five additional defendants with the same drug trafficking charge. All five defendants pleaded guilty to the charge and were sentenced as follows:

Juan Aguirre Solis, 52, of Mexico, was sentenced in December 2011 to 151 months of imprisonment to be followed by five years of supervised release.

Jovo Vargas Nunez, 23, of Mexico, was sentenced in January 2012 to 132 months of imprisonment to be followed by five years of supervised release.

Jilberto Bautista Villegas, also known as “Laurentoni Baza Martinez,” 32, of Mexico, was
sentenced in October 2011 to 120 months of imprisonment to be followed by five years of supervised release.

Isidro Jesus Soto Santander, 25, of Mexico, was sentenced in December 2011 to 70 months of imprisonment to be followed by five years of supervised release.

Cirilio Humberto Ortega Jiminez, also known as “Jose Miguel Cintron,” 25, of Statesville, was sentenced in April 2011 to 60 months of imprisonment to be followed by four years of supervised release.

All defendants are in federal custody. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

The investigation was spearheaded by HSI and SBI, with the assistance of the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, the Statesville Police Department, the Davie County Sheriff’s Office and the High Point Police Department. The prosecution was handled for the government by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven R. Kaufman, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.

Drug Trafficker Arrested in Guatemala for Intent to Import Cocaine

A drug trafficker was charged and arrested in Guatemala Tuesday, April 3, for conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and possessing firearms in furtherance of his narcotics importation activities. This arrest comes as a result of an investigation assisted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration New York Strike Force.

Horst Walther Overdick-Mejia, 44, was arrested in Guatemala where he was detained pending extradition to the United States.

According to court documents and other information in the public record in Guatemala, Overdick-Mejia is a major Guatemalan drug trafficker currently aligned with Los Zetas, one of Mexico’s most violent and increasingly powerful drug cartels. Los Zetas imports cocaine through Guatemala and other countries in Central America into Mexico, and then transport it to the United States.

Since 1999, Overdick-Mejia has facilitated the importation of cocaine into Guatemala by
securing airstrips in the country for planes carrying hundreds of kilograms. In 2002, Overdick-Mejia was responsible for the arrival of a 1,200-kilogram cocaine shipment at an airstrip in Guatemala, which he and his associates then transported into Mexico using hidden compartments in trucks. Overdick-Mejia then began to purchase cocaine and transported it fromGuatemala to Los Zetas inMexico.

During this investigation, Guatemalan law enforcement officers recovered videos of
Overdick-Mejia with prominent members of Los Zetas in Guatemala at a “narcofiesta,” a large party they hosted in Guatemala, and at a horse race. Guatemalan officers also recovered a drug ledger detailing the movement of guns, narcotics and deliveries of money to Overdick-Mejia.

Overdick-Mejia is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess cocaine,
knowing that the cocaine would be imported into the United States. This charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

He is also charged with one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug
trafficking crime. This count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

New York Man Sentenced for Crack Cocaine Smuggling

A New York City resident was sentenced to 10 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine and possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute, following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Luis Ahorrio, 37, of Queens, New York was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. Thursday, March 15.

According to evidence presented at the week-long trial, Ahorrio and co-conspirator
Timothy Wilson, 43, of Toms River, N.J., left Wilson’s home in New Jersey in a rental car. Several hours later, Maryland State Police troopers stopped their vehicle on Route 113 in Worcester County, Md. for driving above the speed limit and following a vehicle too closely. Ahorrio and Wilson appeared nervous. Upon reviewing the car rental agreement, one of the troopers noticed that Wilson, the passenger, was the only authorized driver of
the vehicle.

A canine search of the car revealed a bag under the passenger side seat filled with ziplock bags that contained a total of 327.9 grams of cocaine base. Ahorrio and Wilson testified at trial that they had no knowledge of the cocaine base. The jury, however, concluded that Wilson and Ahorrio had knowingly conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute the crack cocaine found in the car, and that they both knowingly possessed crack cocaine with the intent to distribute. Judge Quarles also found that Ahorrio’s denial of
knowledge of the drugs in the car constituted an attempt to obstruct justice.

Timothy Wilson was sentenced to 10 years in prison on March 7 for the conspiracy and
for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine.

The investigation was conducted by HSI Baltimore, the Maryland State Police and the
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Washington Field Division.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joshua L. Kaul, Robert Harding
and Christopher Romano.

$5 Million of Cocaine Seized in Puerto Rico, Two U.S. Citizens Arrested

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) officers, seized 199 bricks of cocaine Thursday, February 9, with an estimated weight of 245 kilograms and a street value of approximately $5 million. Two U.S. citizens were arrested for drug trafficking in connection with the seizure.

At approximately 10:40 a.m. Thursday the 9th, a marine patrol aircraft assigned to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB), crewed by CBP officers and a Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) agent, detected a suspicious white fiberglass twin outboard center console vessel traveling eastbound toward Puerto Rico with two persons on board.

 A second suspicious vessel; described as a single engine, white fiberglass with light blue trim, with two persons wearing yellow raincoats; was observed in the vicinity traveling westbound toward the Dominican Republic. The proximity within the two vessels suggested a possible transfer of contraband at sea.

 A CBP marine interceptor was launched to intercept the vessel, reaching it at approximately 10 miles off the coast of La Parguera in the southwest coast of Puerto Rico.
Once intercepted, the crew of the suspicious vessel was instructed to set course to the Mayaguez marine unit for further inspection. The inspections conducted by CBP’s field
operations officers and Border Patrol agents revealed approximately 199 bricks with a white powdery substance that reacted positive to cocaine during a field drug test.

 HSI special agents took custody of the narcotics and the two individuals for further investigation. Brothers Elvis Aviles Vega, 46, and Alberto Aviles, 47, were transferred to the Guaynabo, Puerto Rico Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting the outcome of their case. They had their initial hearing before a magistrate judge on Friday.

 “HSI will continue working with our CCSF partners to investigate and prosecute those who in flagrant disregard of our laws and way of life try to smuggle or transport illegal contraband into or outside our area of jurisdiction,” said Roberto Escobar Vargas, special
agent in charge HSI San Juan. “This seizure demonstrates what can be accomplished when law enforcement agencies work together with vigilance and a commitment to enforce our nation’s customs laws.”

 CCSF is an initiative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics utilizing the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed by HSI, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, the Coast Guard, CBP, and PRPD’s Unified Forces for Rapid Action.

 HSI special agents have extensive knowledge of techniques employed by smuggling organizations to transport contraband into the United States. This expertise has been gained through years of experience in conducting undercover operations, utilizing
confidential informants, special enforcement operations and conducting contraband smuggling investigations.