and Principal Runner of a Colombian Distribution Ring Sentenced on Federal
Drug Trafficking Charges;
Boston, MA A leader of a Colombian cocaine distribution ring operating in the Boston area and his principal "runner" were sentenced Friday, August 8, 2003, in federal court to terms of imprisonment after pleading guilty to drug trafficking charges. Over the weekend, another Colombian defendant in the same case arrived in Boston in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service following his extradition to the United States by the government of Colombia.
Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in New England; Peter C. Emerzian, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Inspector General's Office in New England; Colonel Thomas J. Foley, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police and United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, announced that U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf sentenced ALEXANDER DE JESUS ARROYAVE RESTREPO, age 26, of Somerville, Massachusetts, to 210 months, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release and JUAN DIEGO QUINTERO, age 24, of East Boston, Massachusetts, to 135 months in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. Each man faces possible deportation back to their native Colombia after serving their prison sentences
RESTREPO pleaded guilty earlier this year to a one-count information charging him with possession with intent to distribute, and distribution, of cocaine. QUINTERO pleaded guilty earlier this year to an indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and one count of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute.
Over the weekend, the Marshals Service for the District of Massachusetts also took custody of a third defendant, EDISON YOBANY BALBIN GAVIRIA, from the Colombian government. GAVIRIA is only the third Colombian national extradited to the District of Massachusetts since Colombia amended its constitution in the late 1990s to allow such extraditions.
On April 25, 2001, QUINTERO and a co-defendant, Edier Gomez, (previously convicted and scheduled to be sentenced later this month), were arrested on the Massachusetts Turnpike as they returned to Boston with 14 kilograms of cocaine which had been selected from among 35 kilograms stored in Westchester County, New York. Their boss, RESTREPO, was arrested later that same afternoon at his residence. The three defendants initially were charged in federal court in connection with just the 14 kilograms seized from QUINTERO and Gomez. However, in November 2001, the U.S. Attorney's Office unsealed a superseding indictment charging RESTREPO, QUINTERO, Gomez, GAVIRIA and 21 others, with conspiring to distribute cocaine and/or with cocaine distribution.
Evidence presented at the sentencing hearings showed that RESTREPO and his older brother, DAVID RESTREPO, (who is still a fugitive and believed to be in Colombia), were the leaders of a cocaine distribution ring which operated in the Boston area and was part of a larger cocaine distribution network operating in the District of Massachusetts, the Southern District of Florida, the Southern District of New York, and the District of New Jersey. Evidence at the sentencing hearings further showed that QUINTERO had worked for his cousins, RESTREPO and his brother, and was their principal "runner," taking delivery of cocaine from suppliers, delivering it to customers and receiving payment from customers. While both QUINTERO and RESTREPO were held accountable for the distribution of between 50 and 150 kilograms of cocaine, RESTREPO's higher sentence reflected the Judge Wolf's finding that RESTREPO was the leader of a conspiracy that involved 5 or more persons or that was otherwise extensive.
According to the indictment in this matter and other documents filed with the court, GAVIRIA was an associate of the Restrepo distribution ring who eventually worked his way up to a position where he operated as RESTREPOS's partner, for example, assuming responsibility for the collection of drug proceeds from one of the ring's major wholesale customers. It is alleged that GAVIRA returned to his native Colombia in early April of 2001, while this matter was still under investigation, and continued working there for DAVID RESTREPO, who directed the ring's operations through frequent telephone contacts with his brother ALEXANDER RESTREPO and other associates.
GAVIRIA is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joyce London Alexander on August 13, 2003 at 2:30 p.m. If convicted, GAVIRIA faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The case was investigated by members of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's New England Field Division Task Force which is comprised of law enforcement officers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement, the Massachusetts State Police, the Boston Housing Authority, and the Milton, Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline Police Departments, in concert with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Chelsea Police Department, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of the Inspector General.
Press Contact: Anthony J. Pettigrew, (617) 557-2138