MIAMI, FL. – Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and Al Lamberti, Sheriff, Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO), announced the unsealing of a 16-count indictment charging 13 individuals with federal drug charges, including nine employees of King Ocean Services, an ocean cargo carrier that docks at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Twelve of the 13 defendants have been arrested. If convicted, the defendants each face a possible sentence of life imprisonment.
A joint investigation by the DEA, ICE and BSO into the drug trafficking activities of several individuals led law enforcement to focus their investigation into individuals working at Port Everglades who assist in offloading cargo vessels at the Port. The indictment charges dock workers Rene Pedraza Contreras, Hector Gonzalez, Javier Delgado, Jose Emilio Navarro, Rusland Jimenez Perez, Antonio Pena, Joaquin Florencias Arronte, and Andres Collazo, together with Felipe Mena, crewmember of cargo vessel Katrin S., and four other non-Port workers, Joaquin Goenaga, Cristian Rene Pedraza-Caban, Livan Alfonso, and Miguel Angel Puerto, with conspiring to import heroin and cocaine into the United States, and conspiring to possess with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine. Miguel Angel Puerto, a previously indicted fugitive, remains at large. Another co-conspirator, Ulises Prieto, was charged in a separate case and he has pleaded guilty to his participation in the conspiracy. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 29, 2011.
According to the charging document, the Port Everglades employees and their associates allegedly assisted in the smuggling of heroin and cocaine into the United States by coordinating the concealment of the narcotics aboard King Ocean Services cargo vessels at ports of call overseas. Once the vessels arrived at Port Everglades, they then assisted in removing the narcotics from the port and into the hands of drug traffickers. The conspiracy allegedly involved the importation through Port Everglades of more than 20 kilograms of heroin and cocaine through Port Everglades, with an estimated street value of $2.5 million.
An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.