CHARLOTTE, NC. – A federal criminal complaint filed today in U.S. District Court in Charlotte charged two men with cocaine trafficking offenses, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by John S. Comer, Acting Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Atlanta Field Division (Atlanta FD) of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), of which the DEA Charlotte District is a part, and Colonel Michael Gilchrist, Commander of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
According to the criminal complaint, Rueben Orozco-Garcia, 33, and Juan Gonzalez-Behar, 46, were arrested on June 17, 2011. Filed court documents indicate that the allegations stem from a traffic stop of a Ford F-150 pickup truck that occurred in Monroe on June 16, 2011. The complaint alleges that during the traffic stop, a North Carolina state trooper observed three large duffel bags in the back passenger area. According to the complaint, one of the bags was unzipped slightly, and the officer observed brown-taped packages inside the bag. The complaint alleges that after a canine alerted on the outside and inside of the truck, the officer conducted a hand search and found that the duffel bags contained approximately 81 kilograms of cocaine. According to the complaint, each of the duffel bags measured approximately four feet, by two feet, by two feet and the wholesale value of the cocaine is approximately $2.4 million.
The complaint charges both men with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine. If convicted on the conspiracy count, the defendants face a minimum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment and a maximum penalty of life in prison, a $10 million fine, or both.
“This investigation has lead to one of the largest drug seizures in the history of this district,” U.S. Attorney Tompkins noted. “Because of the vigilant efforts of our federal and state law enforcement agencies, we have successfully prevented several million dollars worth of cocaine from polluting the streets of North Carolina’s cities and towns. And, we have hurt the illegal drug traffickers right where it hurts the most: in their pocketbooks,” Tompkins added. “But we won’t rest there. Those who mistakenly believe that Charlotte is a good place to engage in the business of drug trafficking will soon learn that the only retirement they will earn from their illicit business will be spent in a federal prison.”
John S. Comer, Acting SAC of the DEA Atlanta FD stated, “These criminals posed a clear and present danger to the safety of the citizens in Monroe and elsewhere. Their removal automatically makes these communities safer. These arrests today illustrate that success can be achieved through the cooperative efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement.”
“The seizure of the 81 kilos of cocaine in Monroe was the result of teamwork between federal and state law enforcement where resources and tools were combined to achieve a common goal,” said Col. Michael Gilchrist. “We will continue to provide safe communities and streets for the citizens of North Carolina through our commitment for a drug free society.”
The defendants had their initial appearance hearings in Charlotte today before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler. Both men were ordered held in custody without bond pending a detention hearing set for Tuesday, June 21, 2011.
The charges contained in the complaint are mere allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The investigation was led by DEA with the assistance of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. The federal prosecution is handled for the government by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Claire Phillips of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.
DEA AFD’s Acting SAC John S. Comer, encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.