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Feb. 7, 2012

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Long Time Fugitive Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering

HOUSTON – John Callen Jr. 52, formerly of Cypress, Texas and Detroit, Mich., has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute 14 kilograms of cocaine and laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Callen, who fled Texas after a task force of federal agents and local officers found cocaine, heroin and several firearms at his upscale Cypress home on Aug. 5, 2003, remained a fugitive until deputies with the U.S. Marshals Service found him in Michigan living under an alias. Set for trial this week, Callen, instead, opted to plead guilty to all three counts alleged in the indictment before U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon without benefit of a plea agreement.

Today, Callen admitted that in 2003 his principal source of income was from drug trafficking. On Aug. 5, 2003, he received 14 kilograms of cocaine delivered to his then home on Wincrest Falls Drive in Cypress from a co-defendant. That co-defendant received $249,005 in cash from Callen which he was to deliver to the cocaine supplier. However, the money never made it to the supplier because officers of the Currency and Narcotics Enforcement Task Force (CNET) had the entire transaction under both physical and aerial surveillance. The $249,000 was seized from the vehicle driven by the co-defendant as it left Callen’s residence and a search of Callen’s home resulted in the recovery of the 14 kilograms of cocaine, a kilogram of heroin, as well as 14 marijuana plants growing in the back yard of the residence. Inside the house, investigating agents seized an additional $160,000 in cash and 10 firearms. CNET officers, comprised of officers and agents with the Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection, found an additional three kilograms of cocaine in a storage locker in southeast Houston used by the source of supply to store contraband that same day.
Callen faces no less than 10 years and up to life imprisonment on the two drug convictions, a maximum of 20 years imprisonment for money laundering and millions in fines. Sentencing is set for May 2012. 

The two co-defendants, arrested in 2003, were convicted following guilty pleas and sentenced to prison. Callen fled Texas following the seizures and began living under a different name, but was finally found and arrested in Michigan in December 2010 and returned to Houston in January 2011. Callen has been in federal custody since his arrest and will remain in custody pending his sentencing. 

Assistant United States Attorney Bertram Isaacs is prosecuting the case.