Grand jury indicts 2 local men in drug conspiracy involving more than 5 kilograms of methamphetamine, 1 kilogram of fentanyl
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Guatemalan man was transported from Colombia to Columbus yesterday and appeared in federal court this afternoon on charges related to a Colombia-to-America cocaine conspiracy.
Jose Luis DeLeon-Baltazar, 38, is the second defendant in this alleged conspiracy to be extradited to the Southern District of Ohio. In October 2019, Francisco Golon-Valenzuela was extradited to Columbus from Panama.
According to the indictment, DeLeon-Baltazar and Golon-Valenzuela conspired with others to ship thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia, via sea and land, through Central America and Mexico to the United States.
The indictment details that as part of the conspiracy individuals would use “load” coordinators to assist with logistics of cocaine shipments, locate drivers and boat operators for narcotic-laden vehicles and vessels, and secure shared investments from multiple co-conspirators in specific cocaine shipments.
Fishermen and other commercial maritime laborers were allegedly recruited by conspirators to transport cocaine and refueling vessels.
Conspirators allegedly paid a “tax” or “fee” to send cocaine through areas controlled by a different drug trafficking organization or cartel.
Members of the conspiracy allegedly shared information on the activities and locations of law enforcement and military personnel assigned to interdict narcotics shipments. It is alleged co-conspirators also sheltered individuals who were at risk of extradition to other countries.
Low-level co-conspirators would allegedly take responsibility for an entire load of seized cocaine in order to free higher-level members.
Cocaine shipments seized in this case thus far include:
Four defendants were transported to Ohio for prosecution in September 2017, following the 720 kilogram seizure near the Galapagos Islands. That seizure alone included more than 1,584 pounds of cocaine, equaling an approximate street value of $25 million.
“When we say we are going after the cartels, we mean it,” U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers said. “This investigation remains ongoing.”
The narcotics conspiracy in this case is punishable by 10 years up to life in prison. Congress sets the minimum and maximum statutory sentence. Sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the Court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Keith Martin, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); and Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Richard S. Fambro announced the charges. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan J.C. Grey and Elizabeth Rabe are representing the United States in this case.
An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
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