Last of Five Defendants are Sentenced in Cocaine Smuggling;
DEC 16 -- A federal judge has sentenced Omar Altamarino-Nunez to 151 months in prison and Idelfonso Betancourt-Rodriguez to 51 months for their roles in smuggling 29 kilograms of cocaine that was destined for Rhode Island. In May 2007, DEA agents and Massachusetts State Police seized the cocaine from an SUV near Springfield, Massachusetts, after the drugs had been unloaded off a truck from California. Two other defendants have been sentenced for the smuggling operation and another for transporting $129,000 in cash proceeds from previous cocaine deals.
Kevin L. Lane, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in New England and United States Attorney Robert Clark Corrente announced the sentences, which U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith imposed in U.S. District Court, Providence. Judge Smith sentenced Betancourt-Rodriguez today and Altamarino-Nunez yesterday.
Previously, Judge Smith sentenced Adolfo Verdugo, 41, of California, to 150 months in prison, Rafael Fernandez-Roque, 30, to 120 months, and Juan Manuel Casillas, 55, of California, to 48 months.
In April, a jury found Verdugo and Fernandez-Roque guilty of cocaine trafficking. The evidence showed that Verdugo owned the truck and drove it, loaded with produce and cocaine, from California to Massachusetts, and that Fernandez-Roque, Altamarino-Nunez and Betancourt-Rodriguez drove from Providence to the Springfield area to pick up the cocaine.
Altamarino-Nunez, 31, and Betancourt-Rodriguez, 29, pleaded guilty to their roles in the smuggling, and Casillas pleaded guilty to money laundering.
During court proceedings, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary E. Rogers said evidence developed by the Drug Enforcement Administration proved that, in May 2007, Altamarino-Nunez arranged to meet Verdugo to pick up a shipment of cocaine. Verdugo told Altamarino to meet him “where the Simpsons live,” a coded reference to Springfield and the cartoon characters, the Simpsons, who live in a fictional town called Springfield.
Altamarino-Nunez recruited Fernandez-Roque and Betancourt-Rodriguez, and the three men drove from Providence in two vehicles, one of them a Jeep Cherokee. At a rest area north of Springfield on I-91, the Cherokee parked between two tractor-trailer trucks and left after about a minute. Massachusetts State Police and DEA agents stopped the Cherokee, seized a black bag containing bricks of cocaine, and arrested Betancourt and Roque.
Agents questioned Verdugo at the rest stop, and he claimed he was merely delivering produce from California in his truck He was allowed to leave but, in July 2007, Newport Police Detective Michael S. Naylor, assigned to the DEA Task Force, flew to California and arrested Verdugo.
In November 2007, Altamarino-Nunez pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy, and to illegally reentering the United States from Mexico. In April 2008, a jury found Roque and Verdugo guilty of conspiracy.
In February 2008, Casillas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money. Evidence showed that Altamarino- Nunez arranged in December 2006 to deliver a truck containing $129,000 in cash to Casillas, who was to drive the truck to California. However, Rhode Island State Police seized the truck and the cash.
The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation, with assistance from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Rhode Island State Police, and Massachusetts State Police.