News Release
For Immediate Release:
October 29, 2009
Contact: Special Agent Tony Pettigrew
Number: 617-557-2138

Salvadoran Man Who Smuggled Cocaine Sentenced to More Than 12 Years
in Federal Prison

OCT 29 -- Steven W. Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and Nora R. Dannehy, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JUAN ROMERO-CARCAMO, 39, a citizen of El Salvador last residing in Hollywood, Florida, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Janet C. Hall in Bridgeport to 151 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release.  On April 15, 2009, a jury found ROMERO guilty of drug distribution and drug importation conspiracy charges.

According to the evidence presented during the trial, ROMERO acted as a courier for an international narcotics trafficking organization that transported multi-kilogram quantities of heroin and cocaine from Guatemala to points in the U.S., including Miami, Florida and Charlotte, North Carolina.  On August 27, 2007, ROMERO was arrested at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago as he was attempting to enter the U.S. carrying two sets of towbars that contained approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine.  Trial testimony and evidence revealed that ROMERO had transported multi-kilogram quantities of drugs from Guatemala to the U.S. on at least two prior occasions.

This matter stemmed from a related investigation that was initiated by the Drug Enforcement Administration in Connecticut.  Based on information received over a  court-authorized wiretap, on November 13, 2006, Connecticut DEA agents requested the Fort Lee, New Jersey police to stop a truck operated by Juan Trinidad and Rafael Caceres-Barraza, which had been driven from a residence at 813 Candlewood Lake Road in New Milford that morning.  After Fort Lee officers found approximately 20 kilograms of cocaine concealed in the truck, the DEA requested that New Milford Police obtain a search warrant for 813 Candlewood Lake Road, which was executed later that day.  At the residence, which had been shared by Julio Flores-Ceron and Caceres, police found more than 10 kilograms of cocaine, six kilograms of heroin and a substantial amount of narcotics packaging, indicating that a much larger quantity of drugs had been present at the premises.

The New Milford heroin matter was a part of a larger investigation, conducted by the DEA in Bridgeport and the DEA in the Eastern District of New York, into suspected heroin distribution by an organization headed by Hector Vidal Yepes-Casas.  The New York DEA has estimated that the Yepes organization, one of the largest Colombian heroin trafficking organizations in the United States, was responsible for shipping more than 250 kilograms of heroin from Colombia to the U.S.  During the investigation, agents seized approximately $24 million of heroin, which includes the Connecticut seizures.  The investigation revealed that the organization transported its narcotics to the U.S. primarily through Panama and Guatemala, and that the drugs were concealed in various ways, including inside packages of red kidney beans, inside the beads of beaded beach bags, inside trailer hitches that had been opened and resealed, and inside automotive drive shafts.

The execution of the search warrant at 813 Candlewood Lake Road turned up dozens of the beaded beach bags and more than 30 of the trailer hitches that had been used by the supply organization to transport drugs from Colombia to the U.S.

ROMERO has been incarcerated since he was arrested in Chicago on August 27, 2007.

Judge Hall has scheduled sentencing for June 16, 2009, at which time ROMERO faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term of imprisonment of life, and a fine of up to $4 million on each of the two counts of conviction.

Trinidad, Flores and Caceres each pleaded guilty and were sentenced to terms of imprisonment.

This matter was investigated by Drug Enforcement Administration in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  The Fort Lee (NJ) and New Milford Police Departments have assisted in the investigation.