LawFuel – MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, JOHN P. GILBRIDE, the Special
Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the United States Drug
Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), and PETER J. SMITH, the
Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Department
of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(“ICE”), announced the extradition from Colombia of JAIME GAMEZ,
the leader of an international heroin importation ring that
smuggled kilogram quantities of heroin into the United States
between 1997 and 2000. GAMEZ, 43, who arrived in New York last
night, was arraigned earlier this evening in Manhattan federal
court and ordered detained. According to the Indictment unsealed
today and other documents filed in the case:
GAMEZ organized and led a heroin trafficking
organization of more than a dozen members, which imported heroin
into the New York metropolitan area from countries including
Ecuador, Chile, and Panama. GAMEZ recruited couriers, typically
from the United States, to travel to Central and South American
countries to transport heroin on commercial airline flights into
the United States. Often, the heroin was sewn into the lining of
clothing, blankets or bath mats, or into the soles of shoes, or
hidden in other containers such as aerosol cans. GAMEZ employed
others to provide assistance to the couriers on the ground, such
as supplying airline tickets and expense money, transmitting
logistical instructions from GAMEZ, collecting the heroin upon
arrival, and paying the couriers.
As part of this investigation, at least thirteen
members of GAMEZ’s heroin organization have been charged,
convicted and sentenced to prison terms.
GAMEZ is charged with one count of conspiracy to import
narcotics and one count of narcotics trafficking conspiracy. If
convicted, GAMEZ faces a maximum sentence on each count of life
in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
However, pursuant to agreement, the United States has provided
assurances to Colombia that GAMEZ will not be required to serve a
GAMEZ’s case is assigned to United States District
Judge ROBERT P. PATTERSON. GAMEZ was arraigned earlier this
evening by United States Magistrate Judge JAMES C. FRANCIS IV,
and ordered detained.
Mr. GARCIA praised the investigative work of the
DEA and ICE. Mr. GARCIA thanked the United States Department of
Justice Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs for
their involvement in the extradition process.
Assistant United States Attorneys DAVID SIEGAL and MARK
LANPHER are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in these Indictment are merely
accusations, and GAMEZ is presumed innocent unless and until