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Dominican Heroin and Cocaine Trafficker Extradited from the Dominican Republic Following Joint Investigation by United States, Germany, Canada, and Switzerland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2007

Drugs Concealed in Suitcases Carried by Young Women

BROOKLYN, NY – Jose Ramon Hinojosa Santos, the head of an international drug ring that shipped heroin and cocaine to the United States, Western Europe, and Canada, was extradited to the United States from the Dominican Republic late Sunday evening. He was arraigned Monday afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann at the U. S. Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, and ordered detained. The defendant’s initial appearance before United States District Court Judge Raymond J. Dearie is scheduled for 4:30 this afternoon.

On July 18, 2006, an indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Brooklyn charging Hinojosa with drug trafficking conspiracy, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Hinojosa was apprehended by law enforcement officers in the Dominican Republic on February 11, 2007, and ordered held without bail. On July 13, 2007, after the Dominican Republic authorized Hinojosa’s extradition to the United States, he unsuccessfully attempted to escape by sawing through the bars of his prison cell.

The indictment charges that since 2002, Hinojosa’s organization shipped drugs from Colombia through Venezuela to the Dominican Republic, and then utilized young Dominican women to import heroin and cocaine into the United States, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, France, and The Netherlands. Typically, the couriers transported between three and eight kilograms of cocaine, and between one and three kilograms of heroin, hidden in suitcases. To minimize the chance of detection, the couriers were often accompanied by friends and family members to make it appear as if they were on a vacation. DEA estimates that the organization was responsible for sending over 50 kilograms of heroin to the United States and over 100 kilograms of cocaine to Western Europe between 2004 and 2006. In the past three years, fourteen of the couriers were arrested in the United States, Canada, the Dominican Republic, and Western Europe. Four of the couriers arrested in New York have pleaded guilty to narcotics trafficking charges and are awaiting sentence.

The arrest of Hinojosa and the drug couriers is the product of a lengthy investigation conducted by Drug Enforcement Administration Offices in New York, Berlin, Bern, and the Dominican Republic, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Montreal Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Germany Landeskriminalamt (LKA) in Berlin, the Swiss Federal Office of Police, and the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Bern, Switzerland. During the investigation, law enforcement officers seized over 45 kilograms of cocaine and one kilogram of heroin.

“The combined efforts of law enforcement on two continents identified and then dismantled a major drug importation organization operating from the Dominican Republic,” stated United States Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf. “We are committed to working with our law enforcement colleagues around the world to bring to justice those who would bring illegal drugs into our countries.” Ms. Mauskopf expressed her grateful appreciation to the agencies that assisted the investigation.

John P. Gilbride, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Field Office, stated, “Working collaboratively with our law enforcement partners around the globe, DEA identified a multitude of drug couriers who were operating under the direction of Hinojosa Santos. This extradition is a success for our global counterparts and sends a signal to drug traffickers worldwide who are responsible for flooding our streets with illegal narcotics that we will not tolerate their actions.”

The charge in the indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Hinojosa faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment, and a $4 million fine.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bonnie S. Klapper.



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