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Press Release

Texas Drug Dealer Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison For Trafficking Heroin In Maryland

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland

Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus sentenced Amir Ali Faraz, age 45, of Laredo, Texas, today to 20 years in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, 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.

Judge Titus also sentenced co-conspirator Ricardo Rodriguez, age 29, also of Laredo, Texas, to 78 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute heroin and marijuana, and for using a cell phone in furtherance of drug trafficking. Faraz and Rodriguez were 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; Special Agent in Charge William Winter 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 Marcus L. Brown, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; and Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Superintendent of the Virginia State Police.

According to testimony at their trial, Faraz played a significant role in a drug conspiracy - from transporting heroin from Mexico into Texas and then on to Maryland, to soliciting purchasers and distributing heroin and marijuana. For example, beginning in late July, Faraz and a co-conspirator, 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. Faraz and the co-conspirator also 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. According to trial testimony, Faraz traveled to Mexico before each trip to Maryland, and returned with between one and two kilograms of heroin.

Witnesses testified that during October 2012, Faraz continued to talk to Bartrum by telephone, discussing arrangements to obtain marijuana, cocaine and heroin from Texas. Faraz wanted one of his heroin customers to provide the funds to obtain the marijuana in Mexico. Faraz’ conversations with Bartrum and the heroin customer included shipments of 100 to 200 pounds of marijuana, as well as heroin. Search and arrest warrants were executed before the transaction could take place.

According to trial testimony, Escobar-Bucerra also communicated with Bartrum during October and discussed bringing marijuana and heroin back to Maryland. In late October and November 2012, Ricardo Rodriguez was intercepted speaking to Bartrum about the next trip planned by Escobar-Bucerra. During these calls Rodriguez advised they were ready with all of the drugs, including marijuana and heroin. He also told Bartrum they had 500 pounds of marijuana if he wanted to purchase it. They discussed the quality and price of this additional marijuana and the need to have someone transport it. As a result of these calls, on November 6, 2012, surveillance located two pickup trucks traveling in tandem from Texas to Maryland. The vehicles were located outside Roanoke, Virginia. A traffic stop was conducted on both trucks. One of the trucks was occupied by Rodriguez and driven by his codefendant Jose Chapa. A subsequent search of the vehicle resulted in the seizure of seven packages which contained 6,190 grams of marijuana; a ziploc bag which contained 337.7 grams of heroin hydrochloride; plastic bags which contained 287.6 grams of heroin hydrochloride; and a knotted plastic bag which contained 99.1 grams of heroin hydrochloride. Escobar-Bucerra was identified as the driver of the second pickup truck.

Javier Escobar-Bucerra, age 29, of Laredo, Texas; Harold Bartrum, age 43, of Hyattsville, Maryland; and Jose Chapa, age 35, all pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Escobar Bucerra and Bartrum were each sentenced to 64 months in prison; and Chapa was sentenced to 92 months in prison.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the HSI Baltimore, 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.

Updated January 26, 2015