Defendant Convicted of Operating Decades-long Conspiracy to Import Cocaine into the United States
OCT 20 -- Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida (SDFL), and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Division, announced that Hernan Prada was convicted of drug trafficking charges on October 10, 2008 by a jury sitting in Miami. Prada had been extradited to the United States at the end of January 2006.
Prada was found guilty on both counts contained in the indictment against him. The indictment charged Prada with operating a decade long conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States, and to possessing cocaine in the United States with the intent to distribute it. Both charges carry ten year mandatory minimum sentences. According to the testimony of the witnesses at trial, Prada had a cocaine distribution network that he operated in the New York City area beginning in 1988. In 1990, Prada left the United States and set up his operations in his home country of Colombia. From Colombia, Prada exported cocaine to the United States using small boats, go-fast motorboats and freighters.
According to testimony presented in court from former co-conspirators, Prada maintained an extensive organization in several parts of the United States, including Miami, New York, Houston, and Los Angeles. His organization arranged for cocaine shipments to be air-dropped or motor-boated to freighters off the coast of Colombia; after which the shipments were brought to the south Florida area, and picked up by small boats run by other groups, who delivered it to members of his organization in Miami. Those associates arranged deliveries to customers and collected the proceeds from the sales. Similar methods involving at-sea transfers and multiple transporters were used to handle cocaine imported through Mexico. The testimony at trial revealed that Prada exported at least 24,000 kilograms of cocaine to the United States during the time period charged.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the DEA and the FBI for their work in this investigation and prosecution.