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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
November 30, 2005
Contact: DEA Public Affairs
Number: 202-307-7977

United States Announces Dismantling
of International Heroin-Trafficking Ring

Example of artwork in which traffickers concealed heroin
Example of artwork in which traffickers concealed heroin

JOHN P. GILBRIDE, the Special Agent in Charge of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) in New York and MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that eight defendants have been charged in Manhattan federal court with participating in an international heroin-trafficking ring responsible for smuggling over $1 million worth of heroin into the United States, including the New York City area. Seven of the defendants charged in Manhattan were arrested today in Colombia, and are in custody there awaiting extradition.

The takedown announced today in Manhattan is a part of “Operation High Step,” an eighteen month-long international law enforcement operation led by the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force (the “Strike Force”), a Federal task force comprised of agents and officers of the DEA, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the New York State Police, and the New York City Police Department. The charges and today’s arrests were the result of close coordination among the Strike Force, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and Colombian authorities, as well as several other United States Attorney’s Offices nationwide. The investigation, which involved Court-authorized wiretaps in the U.S. and Colombia, culminated in 46 arrests worldwide.

Shattered painting for heroin retrieval
Shattered painting for heroin retrieval

The Indictment unsealed today charges GONZALO SALAZAR OLIVEROS, a/k/a “Horacio,” a/k/a “Viejo,” FERNANDO BEDOYA LOZANO,a/k/a “Don F,” a/k/a “Gordo,” MARITZA CARDENAS DIAZ, a/k/a “La Negra,” a/k/a “La India,” a/k/a “Jenny,” DIEGO FERNANDO OROZCO MENDEZ, a/k/a “El Doctor,” JOSE SMITH BURBANO, a/k/a “Pajaro,” NANCY DURANGO, a/k/a “La Tia,” FERNANDO DELGADO, a/k/a “Caspa,” a/k/a “Casita,” and JAIME ALBERTO PARRA MUÑOZ, a/k/a “Video,”(collectively the “Defendants”) with engaging in a conspiracy to import and distribute kilogram-quantities of heroin into the United States from April 2005 to September 2005. SALAZAR
OLIVEROS and his organization utilized couriers to transport heroin from Colombia into the United States aboard commercial airliners. Approximately 15 kilograms of heroin, with a wholesale value of over $1 million, were seized in Colombia and the U.S. as a result of the Strike Force’s investigation.

Heroin packages being removed from painting remain
Heroin packages being removed from painting remains

The seven Southern District defendants arrested in Colombia will remain in Colombian custody awaiting extradition to the United States. CARLOS HUMBERTO LOZANO, a local heroin distributor working for the organization who was arrested yesterday, is charged by criminal complaint and will be presented in Manhattan federal court, 500 Pearl Street, Floor, later this afternoon. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of lifetime imprisonment, and a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of ten years.

“Drug trafficking reaches across international boundaries and jurisdictions. Law enforcement must do the same. The success of this multi-national, multi-jurisdictional investigation exemplifies the cooperation between law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and the government of Colombia," said Special Agent in Charge John P. Gilbride.

Mr. GARCIA praised the collective efforts of the Strike Force and its member agencies, and thanked Colombian authorities for their assistance in the investigation. Mr. GARCIA also thanked the United States Attorney's Offices in Chicago, Brooklyn and Boston for their roles in the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by the International Narcotics Trafficking Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys VIRGINIA CHAVEZ and GLEN G. McGORTY are in charge of the prosecution.

Traffickers also tried to hide their drugs in furniture.

Operation High Step

Marketing Scheme

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