LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States At…

LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JAMES YEZID VALENCIA RUGELES, 64, along with his two sons, MARIO ALBERTO
pleaded guilty yesterday in Manhattan federal court to cocaine
distribution conspiracy charges. The three had been arrested in
Curacao, the Netherlands Antilles, in March 2004, and were
extradited to the United States in October 2005. They entered
their guilty pleas before United States District Judge JOHN G.
KOELTL. According to the Indictment to which they pleaded

The VALENCIAS ran a massive cocaine smuggling
organization (the “Valencia Organization”) that received
thousands of kilograms of cocaine in Curacao, which they would
then transport northward to St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles,
before eventual importation into Puerto Rico and the continental
United States, including New York.

The Valencia Organization received its cocaine after it
traveled, by container ship and high-speed motorboat, from the
northern coasts of Venezuela and Colombia. The northern coast of
Venezuela is approximately 24 nautical miles south of Curacao.
The Valencia Organization paid corrupt law enforcement officials
in Curacao to provide security, including serving as look-outs in
Curacao when a shipment of cocaine was scheduled to arrive and
providing information to the Valencia Organization about law
enforcement’s interdiction efforts so that the Valencia
Organization could avoid detection and interception of the loads
of narcotics. After the cocaine arrived in Curacao, the Valencia
Organization arranged for its shipment to St.

Maarten, where it
was stored until it was eventually shipped to Puerto Rico and the
continental United States. Payment for the cocaine would be
received in United States currency which was transported back to
Curacao by, among other means, human couriers. The Valencia
Organization was involved in a shipment of 2345 kilograms of
cocaine sent from Venezuela to Curacao in October 2003.
The charge to which the three defendants pleaded guilty
carries a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence, a potential
maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and a $4 million fine.
Judge KOELTL scheduled sentencing proceedings for each defendant
for September 28, 2007.

Mr. GARCIA praised the investigative efforts of the
United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the Korps Politie
Curacao, the Recherché Samenwerkingsteam , and the Coast Guard of
the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.
This prosecution is being handled by the International
Narcotics Trafficking Unit of the United States Attorney’s
Office. Assistant United States Attorneys NEIL M. BAROFKSY and
KEVIN R. PUVALOWSKI are in charge of the prosecution.

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