Department of Justice sealALEJANDRO N. MAYORKAS
United States Attorney
Central District of California


Thom Mrozek, Public Affairs Officer
(213) 894-6947
thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov

January 17, 2001

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY-BASED DRUG TRAFFICKER
SENTENCED TO 30 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR NARCOTICS OFFENSES, MONEY LAUNDERING AND TAX EVASION

 A Chatsworth man convicted of running an international heroin distribution ring, laundering its profits, and failing to pay taxes was sentenced today to 30 years in federal prison.
 Solomon Tekle, 49, was convicted at trial on charges of conspiracy to import heroin and attempted importation of heroin. The jury, which reached its verdict on March 5, 1999, also convicted Tekle on charges of money laundering, tax evasion, subscribing to false tax returns, and structuring financial transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements.
 Tekle was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge Robert M. Takasugi.
 Tekle arranged for the importation of heroin from Bangkok, Thailand into the United States. Using couriers, Tekle imported heroin through various international airports and later distributed the narcotics in Chicago. Tekle then laundered some $1.6 million dollars in cash proceeds through the purchase of personal and commercial properties.
 During the investigation, four kilograms of virtually pure heroin were seized in Bangkok, and another four kilograms were seized in Athens, Greece. Tekle managed to successfully import without detection an additional 29 kilograms of heroin into the United States.
 Tekle's wife, Lily Tekle, was also convicted at trial of two counts of tax evasion. She was sentenced on March 13, 2000, to 21 months in federal prison.  The Tekles understated their income by more than $1 million for the tax years 1993 through 1995.
 This case is the product of a joint investigation by the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

 Release No. 01-011

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