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Press Release

Dominican Republic Native Pleads Guilty to Smuggling $2 Million in Heroin Nearly 6 Years After His Flight from Justice

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

A native resident of the Dominican Republic pleaded guilty in federal court to two drug trafficking counts, United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan announced today.

On Monday, November 20, 2023, Habys Omar Meran pleaded guilty to both the heroin trafficking and criminal conspiracy counts in the 2016 federal Indictment, before United States District Judge Robert J. Colville.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on January 26, 2016, Meran was driving a van containing a sophisticated, hydraulically activated, hidden compartment when stopped on Route 80 by a Pennsylvania State Trooper who specializes in drug interdiction. The compartment was found to contain over 4 kilograms of heroin - an amount valued at over $2 million once packaged and sold on the street. Meran’s passenger, his relative Juan Wilquin Hernandez-Bourdier, was convicted of all charges by a jury on December 13, 2018, and is currently serving his ten-year sentence in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. But Meran had removed his ankle monitor and fled the country before trial on November 23, 2017. The United States Marshal Service initiated a fugitive investigation and Meran was arrested in the Dominican Republic in 2023. Meran was subsequently extradited back to the United States under an international treaty with the government of the Dominican Republic .

Judge Colville scheduled Meran’s sentencing for April 2, 2024, at 10:00am. Federal law provides for a total sentence of up to life in prison, a fine of up to $10 million, or both. Meran also faces the imposition of restitution for the ankle monitor, and the forfeiture of the van he was driving. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court remanded Meran back to federal custody.

Assistant United States Attorneys Ross E. Lenhardt and James Wilson are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of both Meran and Hernandez-Bourdier, with valuable assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police Interdiction Team, the Pennsylvania State Police Crime Lab, the Department of Homeland Security Crime Lab, the United States Marshal Service, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Updated November 21, 2023

Drug Trafficking