Jamaican National Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Heroin Distribution Conspiracy
Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus sentenced Sophia Jones, age 40, a Jamaican citizen residing in Montgomery Village, Maryland, today to 10 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute heroin and marijuana, possession with intent to distribute heroin, and using a phone in furtherance of drug trafficking. Jones was convicted on January 24, 2014, after a 12-day jury trial.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting Special Agent in Charge Ivan Arvelo of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Chief Mark A. Magaw of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Colonel William M. Pallozzi, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; and Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Superintendent of the Virginia State Police.
According to testimony at her trial, Jones was a member of a drug conspiracy which involved at least one kilogram of heroin and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. As part of the drug conspiracy, Jones’ co-conspirators transported drugs from Mexico into Texas and then on to Maryland. For example, beginning in late July 2012, co-defendants Amir Ali Faraz and Javier Escobar-Bucerra, traveled from Texas to Maryland with heroin to sell. A marijuana customer of Faraz’ introduced them to Harold Bartrum. Bartrum was only interested in purchasing marijuana, but located a customer for the heroin. Faraz and Escobar-Bucerra sold nine ounces of heroin through Bartrum to this individual and discussed with Bartrum returning to Maryland with marijuana.
In September 2012, Faraz and Escobar-Bucerra traveled to Maryland from Texas with at least one kilogram of white powder heroin and between 9 ounces and 2.2 pounds of black tar heroin. Bartrum again assisted them in selling the heroin, arranging sales to several people, including Cecil McCalla. According to trial testimony, McCalla contacted his niece, Sophia Jones, who agreed to sell the heroin. During the investigation, Jones was intercepted in telephone conversations arranging for the distribution of heroin on at least four occasions. On October 7th and 11th Jones distributed a total of approximately 14 grams of heroin. On October 9th Jones distributed 50 grams of heroin and on October 15th she distributed between100 and 110 grams of heroin. Jones was also intercepted discussing efforts to obtain marijuana and Bartrum’s efforts to get marijuana from the Texas sources (Faraz and Escobar-Bucerra).
Amir Ali Faraz, age 46, of Laredo, Texas, was also convicted after trial and was sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute heroin and marijuana, possession with intent to distribute heroin, using a phone in furtherance of drug trafficking and interstate travel to promote drug trafficking activities.
Javier Escobar-Bucerra, age 30, of Laredo, Texas; Harold Bartrum, age 44, of Hyattsville, Maryland; and Cecil Rex McCalla, age 50, of Adelphi, Maryland, pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Escobar Bucerra and Bartrum were each sentenced to 64 months in prison; and McCalla was sentenced to 140 months in prison.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised HSI Baltimore, the Prince George’s County Police Department, Maryland State Police and Virginia State Police, for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Deborah A. Johnston and Leah J. Bressack, who prosecuted the case.