RETIRED BOLIVIAN GENERAL AND OTHER BOLIVIAN NATIONAL PLEAD GUILTY TO DRUG TRAFFICKING CONSPIRACY
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Miami Field Division, announced that defendants Rene Sanabria-Oropeza, a Bolivian national and retired Bolivian General, and Marcelo Foronda-Azero, also a Bolivian national, pled guilty today to one count of conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 963. Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for September 2, 2011, at 2:00 p.m., before United States District Judge Ursula Ungaro.
According to statements made in court, the defendants, along with two co-conspirators who also have been charged by indictment, produced and exported bulk kilogram loads of cocaine from Bolivia to the United States. Foronda-Azero agreed to sell one hundred kilograms of cocaine to purported members of a Colombian drug trafficking organization that claimed to want to distribute cocaine in the Miami, Florida area and other parts of the United States. Foronda-Azero also wanted to send an additional quantity of cocaine for sale in the United States on behalf of his organization. Sanabria-Oropeza agreed to provide protection for the cocaine load sent by Foronda-Azero and to ensure that the cargo container that held the cocaine would safely cross the Bolivia-Chile border without being seized. At the time of his arrest, Sanabria-Oropeza was the Director of CIGIEN, a Bolivian Counter-Narcotics Intelligence unit within the Ministry of Government. Sanabria-Oropeza is also a retired General and former head of the Bolivian National Police anti-narcotics unit, known as FELCN.
In late September, 2010, also according to statements made in court, the Foronda organization sent 144 kilograms of cocaine to the Port of Miami hidden in a cargo container containing zinc rocks. The cargo container traveled over land from Bolivia to the Port of Arica in Chile, before being loaded onto a ship and traveling to the Port of Miami. On November 29, 2010, the DEA took possession of the container and seized the 144 kilograms of cocaine.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of DEA, and thanked ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and CBP for their assistance on this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Dobbins.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.