Heroin and Cocaine Cartel Dismantled
WASHINGTON, DC, – A large-scale heroin and cocaine trafficking organization that typically shipped multi-kilogram amounts of Colombian heroin hidden in car batteries from Guatemala to Mexico and the United States is out of business, according to DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy. Operation Jump Start represents a first for DEA: Disrupting an established trend involving the flow of Colombian heroin on a specific route from Guatemala through Mexico to Texas and eventually to New York and other parts of the United States.
“Law enforcement has drug traffickers on the run, forcing them to find new routes and smuggling methods. This time, it was a new trafficking route to smuggle heroin out of Colombia through Guatemala and across the Southwest Border concealed in car batteries,” Tandy explained. “In Operation Jump Start, we brought an entire operation that was using this route to move Colombian heroin to a dead end and closed another avenue to traffickers hoping to peddle this potent and addictive poison in America.”
The culmination of Operation Jump Start was a highly orchestrated multi-jurisdictional, multi-national takedown resulting in 100 arrests thus far. Of particular note, Colombian national Humberto Palaez Escobar, a.k.a. “Beto,” a key target in the organization’s leadership, was captured today in Colombia. Manuel Linares-Sandoval, and Javier Reyes, both Guatemalans, and Alirio Munoz-Munoz, a Colombian, were arrested on provisional arrest warrants today in Guatemala. Carlos Enrique Gonzalez-Hoyos and Edgar Nicolas Romero-Ganan were also arrested on provisional warrants today. Hoyos and Ganan were incarcerated on Guatemalan charges prior to this take down, and along with four additional Guatemalans arrested in November 2004, has drawn significant attention to Operation Jump Start. The removal of these senior directors has effectively dismantled this drug cartel. These nine defendants will be the first individuals extradited from Guatemala for federal narcotics violations since 1992. (Others have been extradited on narcotics charges and were usually related to murder or other charges.)
Operation Jump Start began in October 2003 when a drug seizure made by the Louisiana State Police was connected by DEA’s Special Operations Division to an ongoing drug investigation started in 2002 by the DEA Washington Division Greenbelt, MD High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and Montgomery County, MD Police Department. The New York Drug Enforcement Task Force also initiated an investigation during the same time period. The Greenbelt and New York efforts led to investigations in 14 additional judicial districts, as well as the DEA Country Offices in Guatemala and Bogotá, Colombia. Over the course of this investigation, 100 individuals linked to this powerful drug trafficking organization have been arrested, in excess of 22 kilograms of heroin and 80 kilograms of cocaine have been confiscated, and over $1 million in United States currency have been seized.
Operation Jump Start is a Special Operations Division supported multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case which targeted a drug trafficking and money laundering organization headed by Colombian national Carlos Enrique Gonzalez-Hoyos, a.k.a. “Gordo.” Hoyos, who was indicted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in November 2004, was responsible for sending multi-kilogram shipments of heroin per month into the continental United States from Guatemala. Hoyos is currently serving a jail sentence for a narcotics violation in Guatemala, but continued to orchestrate large shipments of heroin and cocaine to the United States.
The success of Operation Jump Start is the result of the collective law enforcement efforts in the Southern District of New York; Montgomery County, MD; Prince George’s County, MD; St. Mary’s County, MD; Charles County, MD; Newark, NJ; Worcester, MA; Philadelphia, PA; Washington D.C.; New York, NY; Atlanta, GA; Shreveport, LA; Houston, Dallas, Beaumont, Eagle Pass, and Brownsville, TX; Detroit, MI; Miami, FL; Providence, RI; Colombia; and Guatemala.
“Operation Jump Start continues the tradition of cooperation and teamwork with international, federal, state, and local law enforcement that is critical to successfully dismantle large and sophisticated criminal organizations,” Tandy said.