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Press Release

Two Members Of International Narcotics Trafficking Conspiracy Plead Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that TCHAMY YALA and PAPIS DJEME, citizens of Guinea Bissau, pled guilty yesterday and today, respectively, in Manhattan federal court to narcotics importation conspiracy charges. YALA and DJEME were arrested on April 2, 2013, by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Special Operations Division, Bilateral Investigative Unit Narco-Terrorism Group and the DEA Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST) off the coast of West Africa while on board a vessel under DEA control in international waters. They were transferred thereafter to the custody of the United States. YALA and DJEME pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “International drug traffickers pose a serious threat to the United States and its citizens. As this case makes clear, we are committed to halting the flood of narcotics from overseas into our nation, and to working with all of our law enforcement partners, both here and abroad, in bringing the exporters of this poison to justice.”

According to the Indictment previously unsealed in this case:

Beginning in the summer of 2012, YALA, DJEME, and a co-defendant engaged in a series of recorded meetings in Guinea-Bissau with confidential sources (the “CSs”) working with the DEA who purported to be representatives and/or associates of South American-based narcotics traffickers.

In an early meeting in which the defendants discussed the shipment of ton-quantities of cocaine from South America to Guinea Bissau by sea, a co-conspirator noted that the Guinea Bissau government was weak in light of the recent coup d’etat and that it was therefore a good time for the proposed cocaine transaction. In further meetings, YALA and DJEME agreed to assist the CSs by receiving a two-ton load of cocaine that would be transported to Guinea-Bissau by boat and stored in Guinea Bissau for distribution to Europe and the United States. For example, on November 17, 2012, YALA, DJEME and a co-conspirator met with two of the CSs in Guinea Bissau and discussed importing 1,000 kilograms of cocaine into the United States. Also during the meeting, a co-conspirator offered to utilize a company that he owned to facilitate the shipment of cocaine out of Guinea Bissau. YALA and a co-defendant agreed to receive a fee of $1,000,000 per 1,000 kilograms of cocaine received in Guinea Bissau.

YALA, 42, and DJEME, 30, each pled guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute cocaine, knowing and intending that the cocaine would be imported into the United States. Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. YALA is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Berman on September 4, 2014. DJEME is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Berman on September 23, 2014. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

The charges against YALA and DJEME were the result of the extraordinary investigative efforts of DEA’s Special Operations Division. Mr. Bharara also praised the seamless, coordinated work of FAST, the DEA Lisbon Country Office, and the DEA Bogota Country Office, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, and the U.S. State Department.

This case is being handled by the Office's Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Aimee Hector is in charge of the prosecution.

U.S. v. Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto et al. Indictment

Updated May 18, 2015

Press Release Number: 14-125