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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Inmate sentenced to over eight years additional prison time for drug trafficking from prison

ATLANTA - Jorge Armando Ramirez-Lira, a/k/a Negro, a/k/a Jorge Beltran-Carillo, a/k/a Edgar Nava-Baltazar, was sentenced to an additional eight years and one month in prison for importing heroin into the U.S. from Colombia and laundering the drug proceeds.

“Ramirez-Lira, who is already in prison for drug trafficking crimes, used contraband cell phones to broker deals to smuggle heroin into the U.S. from Colombia disguised as jewelry and artwork,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.  “Thanks to the cooperation between law enforcement officials from both the U.S. and Colombia this operation has been dismantled, leaving Ramirez-Lira with an even longer prison sentence.”

“DEA is fully committed to tirelessly pursuing criminals who sell large quantities of drugs, whether they’re selling them on the streets or inside a prison,” said Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division.  “This criminal was already serving time for drug trafficking and had the audacity to continue trafficking while incarcerated. His criminal acts has landed him even more deserving time in prison. The spirited level of law enforcement cooperation made this investigation a success.”

“Heroin is having a devastating effect on some of our communities in the City of Atlanta and throughout metro Atlanta,” said Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields. “We’re grateful to our federal partners for the teamwork and assistance they provide our Department in helping heal our neighborhoods by putting the peddlers of this poison behind bars.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: Ramirez-Lira was a member of a Medellin, Colombia-based international drug trafficking and money laundering organization that conspired to import large quantities of heroin from Colombia into the U.S., including the Atlanta area, and to export cocaine from Colombia into Europe.  The drug trafficking organization utilized drug sources throughout South America including in Chile, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela, and then exported narcotics using commercial parcel carriers and Mexican logistics providers before distributing the narcotics in the U.S. and Europe.  The organization laundered drug trafficking proceeds from the U.S. back to Colombia.

Ramirez-Lira, an inmate in the federal correctional institution in Yazoo City, Mississippi, was an operative within the organization whose role was to serve as a broker, ensuring that the organization had wholesale buyers and trafficking networks throughout the U.S.  As a broker, from inside federal prison, Ramirez-Lira gained access to multiple contraband cellular telephones, which he used to facilitate the drug importation and distribution.  To disguise the heroin shipments, the organization employed an architectural designer, co-defendant Luis Felipe Garcia-Jiminez, who fashioned the heroin into artwork and jewelry.  DEA agents in the U.S. and in Colombia, working collaboratively with the Colombian National Police, seized multiple heroin shipments and ultimately identified members of the organization through wiretaps, surveillance, and analysis of financial and other documents. 

Members of the organization who have been sentenced to date include:

•Jorge Armando Ramirez-Lira, a/k/a Negro, a/k/a Jorge Beltran-Carillo, a/k/a Edgar Nava-Baltazar was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr., to eight years and one month in prison, to be followed by ten years of supervised release.  Ramirez pleaded guilty to conspiring to import and distribute heroin and money laundering.

•Luis Fernando Ospina, a/k/a Caneco, was previously sentenced to 15 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised released.  Ospina pleaded guilty to conspiring to import and distribute heroin and money laundering after being arrested in Colombia in October 2013, and extradited to the U.S. in November 2014.

•Carlos Mario Duque-Gallego a/k/a Bunuelo, was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised released.  Duque-Gallego pleaded guilty to conspiring to import and distribute heroin after being arrested in the Southern District of Florida in October 2013.

•Jorge Yimis Marin-Giraldo a/k/a Carnal, was previously sentenced to seven years and three months in prison, to be followed by four years of supervised released.  Marin-Giraldo pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute heroin after being arrested in the Southern District of Florida in February 2014.

•Luis Felipe Garcia-Jiminez, a/k/a Pipe, was previously sentenced to five years and 11 months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised released.  Garcia-Jiminez pleaded guilty to conspiring to import and distribute heroin after being arrested in Colombia in October 2013, and extradited to the U.S. in September 2014.

•Joel Lopez was previously sentenced to four years and three months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised released.  Lopez pleaded guilty to conspiring to import heroin and money laundering after being arrested in the Northern District of Georgia in August 2013.

This case is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration in partnership with the Colombian National Police and the Atlanta Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan M. Christian and Garrett L. Bradford prosecuted the case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site: www.justthinktwice.gov.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated May 1, 2018