North Carolina Man Convicted of Cocaine Trafficking
MAY 22 (BROWNSVILLE, Texas) - Orlando Giovanni-Hernandez, 28, has been convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit and United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. A federal jury sitting in Brownsville convicted Giovanni-Hernandez following three days of trial and approximately four hours of deliberation.
Evidence presented in the trial established that on or about Dec. 10, 2012, Francisco Chavez-Arriaga, 49, a drug coordinator based out of San Juan, Puerto Rico provided an ice chest filled with 10 kilograms of cocaine to a truck driver with instructions to deliver the cocaine to Natalie Hernandez, 26, of Concord, N.C. When the truck driver contacted Hernandez, she advised she could not pick up the cocaine, but that another woman driving a white Volvo would be at the truck stop to receive it.
Giovanni-Hernandez, a drug trafficker himself, lived in a stash house with Nidia Ramirez-Martinez, 23, in Charlotte, N.C. On Dec. 17, 2012, Ramirez-Martinez and Giovanni-Hernandez were together when Ramirez-Martinez received the phone call from Hernandez requesting she pick up the cocaine. Ramirez-Martinez asked Giovanni-Hernandez if she could borrow his white Volvo in order to pick up some drugs and he agreed.
Ramirez-Martinez, Giovanni-Hernandez and a third co-defendant, Melanie Pretell, 24, also of Concord, drove approximately 90 miles to the truck stop. Along the way, they smoked marijuana and continued to negotiate the drug deal.
At the truck stop, Giovanni-Hernandez orchestrated the transaction and received the cocaine he was planning to take to his stash house where Hernandez was supposed to come and get it. Giovanni-Hernandez was stopped en route by local authorities. However, at that time Giovanni-Hernandez lied to the troopers about where he had been and attempted to pass the blame onto the other co-defendants.
At trial, Giovanni-Hernandez re-iterated that he was not guilty and that the crime was perpetrated by the others. The jury disagreed and found him guilty as charged.
Giovanni-Hernandez faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison on each count of the two counts of conviction.
Chavez-Arriaga, Ramirez-Martinez, Hernandez and Pretell have all pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.The charges are the result of the joint investigative efforts of Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Texas and North Carolina along with the North Carolina Highway Patrol. Assistant United States Attorneys Holly D’Andrea and Carrie Wirsing are prosecuting.