Judge Sentences Drug Smuggler To 300 Months For Scheme Involving International Airport
PHILADELPHIA - Edwin Fernandez, 37, of Philadelphia, was sentenced today to 300 months in prison for smuggling cocaine into the United States via Philadelphia International Airport. Fernandez pleaded guilty on January 5, 2015 to all six counts of the indictment including conspiracy to import five kilograms or more of cocaine, importation of five kilograms or more of cocaine, attempted importation of five kilograms or more of cocaine, conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and two counts of attempted possession with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Stewart Dalzell ordered a $5,000 fine, 10 years of supervised release, and a $600 special assessment.
Between December 2011 and July 2012, Fernandez, worked with a Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic drug trafficking organization ("Santo Domingo DTO") to smuggle approximately 150 kilograms of cocaine into the United States through the Philadelphia International Airport. The Philadelphia organization recruited several individuals who worked at US Airways to assist in the operation.
The Santo Domingo DTO employed several individuals, including airport employees in Santo Domingo, to ensure that bags filled with kilograms of cocaine were safely loaded aboard commercial airplanes destined for Philadelphia, PA. After the bags were safely loaded onto the plane in Santo Domingo, members of the Santo Domingo DTO alerted Fernandez who then notified the recruits to assist in the offloading of the bags at the Philadelphia Airport. Once the plane arrived in Philadelphia, the recruited US Airways employees would offload the baggage from the plane and divert the bags with the drugs onto domestic baggage claim belts, rather than the international baggage claim belts. This avoided inspection by United States Customs and Border Protection officials. Fernandez then arranged for those bags to be retrieved from domestic baggage claim belts for distribution to domestic drug organizations.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Maureen McCartney and Kishan Nair.