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Press Release

North Carolina Man Convicted Of Cocaine Trafficking

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

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - Orlando Giovanni-Hernandez, 28, has been convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. A federal jury sitting in Brownsville convicted Giovanni-Hernandez following three days of trial and approximately four hours of deliberation.

The jury heard that on or about Dec. 10, 2012, Francisco Chavez-Arriaga, 49, a drug coordinator based out of San Juan, provided an ice chest filled with 10 kilograms of cocaine to a truck driver with instructions to deliver the cocaine to Natalie Hernandez, 26, of Concord, N.C. When the truck driver contacted Hernandez, she advised she could not pick up the cocaine, but another woman driving a white Volvo would be at the truck stop to receive it.  

Giovanni-Hernandez, a drug trafficker himself, lived in a stash house with Nidia Ramirez-Martinez, 23, in Charlotte, N.C. On Dec. 17, 2012, Ramirez-Martinez and Giovanni-Hernandez were together when Ramirez-Martinez received a phone call from Hernandez requesting she pick up the cocaine. Ramirez-Martinez asked Giovanni-Hernandez to borrow his white Volvo to pick up some drugs and he agreed.

Ramirez-Martinez, Giovanni-Hernandez and a third co-defendant, Melanie Pretell, 24, also of Concord, drove approximately 90 miles to the truck stop. Along the way, they smoked marijuana and continued to negotiate the drug deal.  

At the truck stop, Giovanni-Hernandez orchestrated the transaction entirely. He received the cocaine and was planning to take it  to his stash house where Hernandez was supposed to come and get it. However, he was stopped en route by local authorities, at which time Giovanni-Hernandez lied to the troopers about where he had been and made various statements trying to pass the blame onto the other co-defendants.

At trial, he again re-iterated that he was not guilty and the crime was perpetrated by the others. The jury disagreed and found him guilty as charged.

At the time of his sentencing, Giovanni-Hernandez faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life on each count of the two counts of conviction.

Chavez-Arriaga, Ramirez-Martinez, Hernandez and Pretell have all pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. 

The charges are the result of the joint investigative efforts of Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Texas and North Carolina along with the North Carolina Highway Patrol. Assistant United States Attorneys Holly D’Andrea and Carrie Wirsing are prosecuting.

Updated April 30, 2015