Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Colombian Paramilitary Leader Sentenced to More Than 15 Years in Prison for International Drug Trafficking

A senior paramilitary leader and one of Colombia’s most notorious drug traffickers was sentenced today to serve 190 months in prison for leading an international drug trafficking conspiracy that imported into the United States ton-quantities of cocaine.  Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting Deputy Administrator Jack Riley of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the announcement.

“Through his leadership position in the AUC, Salvatore Mancuso-Gomez directed the manufacture and shipment of over 100,000 kilograms of cocaine into the United States and elsewhere,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “In addition to enriching himself, Mancuso-Gomez and the AUC used this drug money to raise and arm a paramilitary force of more than 30,000 fighters and cement his control over regions of Colombia.  This case is yet another example of our continued commitment to collaborating with our international partners to prosecute criminals and warlords who traffic in illegal narcotics, violence and intimidation.”

“DEA is committed to relentlessly attacking global criminal networks who use drug trafficking as a means to finance their terrorist activities,” said Acting Deputy Administrator Riley.  “The arrest and prosecution of Salvatore Mancuso-Gomez clearly illustrates this dedication.  As a senior leader in the AUC, Mancuso-Gomez controlled huge amounts of cocaine production in Colombia, and oversaw its movement to the United States and other parts of the world.  Proceeds from his drug trafficking enterprise were used to acquire weapons and further the AUC’s violent criminal agenda.  DEA is pleased that this significant narco-terror leader has faced justice in a U.S. court of law.”

Salvatore Mancuso-Gomez, aka El Mono and Santander Lozada, formerly of Monteria, Colombia, pleaded guilty in October 2008 to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine knowing and intending that it would be imported into the United States.  U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the District of Columbia imposed the sentence.

According to the statement of facts agreed to as part of his guilty plea, Mancuso-Gomez held one of the highest level leadership positions within the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self Defense Forces of Colombia or AUC), a terrorist and paramilitary organization in Colombia.  In September 2001, the AUC was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Department of State.  In May 2003, the AUC was placed on the Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers list by order of the President, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.  In February 2004, Mancuso-Gomez individually was designated as a Tier II Kingpin by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, subjecting him to severe economic sanctions under the Kingpin Act.

The statement of facts also established that the AUC consisted of approximately 30,000 armed soldiers organized into blocs (or regions) with commanders for each bloc.  In connection with his guilty plea, Mancuso-Gomez admitted that, from the mid-1990s through 2004, he directed thousands of soldiers in two blocs of the AUC, controlling large areas where cocaine was produced.

Mancuso-Gomez admitted that the AUC produced approximately 2,000 kilograms of cocaine per month during the conspiracy, and that he and members of the organization transported the cocaine to the coastal areas of Colombia where it was loaded onto go-fast boats and other vessels for ultimate transportation to the United States and Europe.  Mancuso-Gomez also admitted that he levied taxes on other narcotics traffickers who needed passage through AUC-controlled territories, and that he used proceeds from his drug trafficking activities to purchase weapons and other supplies for AUC activities.  Mancuso-Gomez further admitted that he and the AUC maintained tight control of their territories in Colombia through intimidation of corrupt members of the Colombian government, including law enforcement and military personnel and politicians.

Today’s sentence does not account for violations of Colombian human rights-related laws allegedly committed by Mancuso-Gomez, which are being addressed in Colombia through the Justice and Peace process – a legal framework enacted in 2005 to facilitate the demobilization of its paramilitary organizations – and Colombian criminal justice system.

The case was investigated by DEA’s Bogotá and Cartagena, Colombia, Country Offices, and the DEA Special Operations Division.  The government of Colombia provided unprecedented assistance through the investigation, prosecution and sentencing phase of this case.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Paul W. Laymon and Carmen Colon of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS).  NDDS Judicial Attachés in Bogotá, Colombia; the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs; and the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Colombia (Fiscalia), including the Fiscalia’s Transitional Justice program, provided significant assistance.

U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force Captures Murder Suspect Wanted in Modesto, California

Reno, NV – Northern Nevada’s U.S. Marshals-led fugitive task force today located and arrested William Eric Smith who is wanted by the Modesto Police Department for a murder committed on June 6. Smith allegedly used a firearm during that crime; however, no gun was recovered during today’s arrest in a joint operation involving the Sparks Police Department, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, the Nevada Division of Parole and Probation, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Earlier this month, the Modesto Police asked the Marshals Service to assist in finding Smith. Through a series of investigative leads, Smith was discovered in the parking lot of a department store on East 2nd Street. He was shortly thereafter taken into custody without incident in Sparks. Smith was then booked into the Washoe County Detention Center to await court hearings and extradition to California.

Christopher Hoye, U.S. Marshal for the District of Nevada, commented that violent offenders are given top priority by the joint federal, state, county, and municipal fugitive task forces. “The Northern Nevada community can rest assured that when help is requested, one hundred percent of our effort is directed toward finding and arresting people wanted in these types of crimes,” Hoye further stated.

The Northern Nevada Fugitive Task Force, led by the U.S. Marshals Service, is a partnership comprised of law enforcement investigators from the United States Marshals Service, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Nevada Department of Public Safety (Probation & Parole), Sparks Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms (ATF). The task force combines resources and expertise of local, state, and federal law enforcement in a coordinated effort to arrest dangerous fugitives and pursue sexual offenders wherever they are located. Last year the unit was responsible for the arrest of 250 state, local, and federal fugitives.

42 Defendants Facing State or Federal Drug Charges for Allegedly Selling Heroin on City’s West Side

CHICAGO — Forty-two defendants are facing state or federal narcotics charges for their alleged roles in supplying and distributing heroin in the area of West Grenshaw Street and Independence Boulevard, in the North Lawndale neighborhood on the city’s west side.  An investigation led by officers of the Chicago Police Department and agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration assigned to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (“HIDTA”) Task Force, resulted in federal charges against 16 defendants and state charges against 26 others, who police and federal agents began arresting early this morning.

Twelve firearms, approximately $50,000, nearly a half-kilogram of heroin, and over one-half kilogram of cocaine were seized this morning during the arrests of 32 of the charged defendants.  The remaining defendants are either in custody or at large.  Additionally, over one and a half kilograms of heroin were seized during the course of the investigation from last August through this month.  Early today, Chicago police, DEA agents, and other HIDTA law enforcement partners also executed seven search warrants upon several defendants’ residences and three alleged stash houses, and seized two vehicles, including one defendant’s 2014 Maserati, Gran Turismo.

The federal defendants were charged with conspiracy, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute narcotics in five separate criminal complaints that were filed yesterday in U.S. District Court and unsealed following the arrests.  The federal defendants are scheduled to begin appearing at 3 p.m. today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez in U.S. District Court.  The 26 state defendants face charges ranging from Class 1 to Class X Delivery of a Controlled Substance and face a potential sentencing range of four to 30 years in prison upon conviction.  The state defendants are expected to appear in bond court this afternoon at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building in Chicago.

According to a 230-page affidavit in support of the federal arrests and search warrants, the investigation revealed that JAMES TRIPLETT, also known as “Trell,” 33, of Berkley, controlled the distribution of heroin in the area of the 3700 block of West Grenshaw Street, in the North Lawndale neighborhood west of Douglas Park.  Triplett allegedly assigned responsibility for heroin distribution on the block he controlled to specific individuals, who further delegated distribution to shift workers who sold heroin throughout the day.

Triplett obtained his heroin largely from supplier, LEVAUGHN COLLINS, also known as “Sweet Bobby,” 34, of Chicago, who along with his narcotics associates, obtained wholesale quantities of heroin which they mixed and packaged for distribution to buyers like Triplett who then subsequently sold the heroin on the street in the area of the 3700 block of West Grenshaw Street.

The area is just south of the Interstate 290 Eisenhower Expressway corridor that has been referred to as the “Heroin Highway” because of the accessibility it provides to city and suburban heroin customers.

“The Chicago HIDTA is a powerful collaboration of local, state, and federal law enforcement which concentrates its efforts on both narcotics suppliers and street-level distributors,” said Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.  “This investigation and arrests associated with this open air drug market demonstrate how effective teamwork by law enforcement agencies can significantly reduce the flow of narcotics into our communities,” he said.

“This operation demonstrates how police and prosecutors are continuing to work together to dig in at the local level and hammer away at the drug markets plaguing our local communities,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. “Once again, we are pleased to join our state and federal law enforcement partners in these ongoing and coordinated efforts.”

“Investigating, charging and arresting heroin dealers is priority number one," said SAC Wichern.  "Too many lives in Chicagoland are forever lost due to heroin use.  I'm proud of the work done by these agents, officers and prosecutors, who worked tirelessly to achieve these results and I’m confident that with our continued partnership, we will have increasing success."

 “IRS Criminal Investigation was an integral part of today’s law enforcement events by investigating the financial aspects of these investigations,” added Special Agent-in-Charge Boyd from IRS/CID.

The complaint affidavit alleges that Triplett was a wholesale supplier of heroin who, through his drug trafficking organization, ran the heroin trade in the area of the 3700 block of West Grenshaw Street.  The complaint further alleges that Triplett tasked his narcotics associates with different responsibilities ranging from picking up and transporting the packaged heroin for subsequent distribution, to running the daily operations of the Grenshaw drug spot, to collecting proceeds from heroin sales there.  The Triplett drug trafficking organization employed individuals, like MARCETTEAUS MCGEE, aka “Antonio,” aka “Keitho,” 31, of Chicago;   CHRISTOPHER TIDWELL, aka “Gov,” 42, of Chicago; JAMES SMITH, aka “J Dub,” 35, of Chicago; and CHIQUITA JACKSON, 29, of Chicago, to manage the Grenshaw drug spot and advise Triplett when resupply was needed, to shuttle heroin among the various stash and retail locations, and to return his share of the profits to him.  The organization employed street-level workers responsible for the retail sale of its heroin such as JACKIE TYLER, 29, of Chicago.

Levaughn Collins, a wholesale supplier to the Triplet drug trafficking organization, and others, operated his heroin distribution from his main stash house at 561 East 103rd Place, as well as specific locations such as 2936 West Warren Boulevard, the charges allege.  Other defendants, including LARRY COLLINS, aka “Scooter,” 38, of Chicago, JIMMY BELL, aka “Dirt,” 38, of Chicago; LAMEL BURNS, aka “Slim,” 38, of Dolton;  and KEVIN GARDNER, aka “Bo,” 35 of Chicago, allegedly assisted Levaughn Collins in diluting the heroin to increase profits and packaging the heroin into smaller, user-sized quantities for street-resale.  Heroin packaged and distributed by Collins’s organization was typically packaged in small user-portion plastic bags with orange basketballs, purple lady logos, green Playboy bunnies, Hershey’s kisses, or black panda bear symbols stamped on them.

One federal complaint charges twelve defendants ― James Triplett, Levaughn Collins, Larry Collins, Jimmy Bell, Lamel Burns, Kevin Gardner, Christopher Tidwell, Marcetteaus McGee, James Smith, Chiquette Jackson, Jackie Tyler and ANTON HIGGINS, aka “Spud,” 35, of Chicago― with conspiracy to possess and distribute more than a kilogram of heroin.  If convicted, they each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment and a $10 million fine.

DONALD MCINTOSH, aka “Donnie,” 40, of Chicago, and NEKENYA HARDY, aka “Keefy,” 36, of Berwyn, were charged separately with being heroin customers of Levaughn Collins.  If convicted, McIntosh faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years and a $5 million fine and Hardy faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

ANGELES AVALOS, 32, of Chicago, was also charged separately with being a heroin supplier to Levaughn Collins.  If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years and a $5 million fine.

DEONTE THOMAS, aka “12th Street,” 25, of Chicago, was also charged separately with distributing heroin in the 3700 block of West Grenshaw Street.  If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years and a $5 million fine.


Assistant United States Attorneys Katherine A. Sawyer and Andrew K. Polovin are representing the government in the federal cases.  Assistant State’s Attorney Aaron R. Bond is prosecuting the state cases.

The public is reminded that complaints contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.