News Release
February 20, 2008

Major Drug Dealer Arrested on Federal Drug Charges

FEB 20 -- Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Miami Field Division, U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill for the Middle District of Florida, Robert Weber, Special Agent in Charge, Tampa Office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Thomas Hurlbert, Jr., U.S. Marshal for the Middle District of Florida, announced the arrest of Franklyn Estevez. Estevez was arrested on February 19, as he disembarked from a flight at Miami International Airport, that had originated from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Estevez is accused of leading, managing, and organizing major cocaine trafficking ventures in the U.S. and elsewhere. Estevez is linked to Consolidated Priority Organization Targets designated by President Bush as "command and control" drug trafficking threats to the U.S.

According to the indictment and other court documents filed in Jacksonville, beginning on or about March 2005 through August 2007, in Duval County and elsewhere, Estevez did knowingly and intentionally conspire to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. It is further alleged that this violation involved 5 kilograms or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine. If convicted, Estevez faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory sentence of ten years in prison.

On April 4, 2006, the U.S. Coast Guard seized 53 kilograms of cocaine from a sailing vessel in the Caribbean Sea near Jamaica. According to statements made by cooperating defendants in the investigation, Estevez allegedly orchestrated the drug load from Cartagena, Colombia. Estevez also sought to smuggle other loads of drugs into the U.S. via the Middle District of Florida, during the course of the investigation. To date, two defendants have been convicted in connection with "Operation Salako" in Jacksonville. A French national, Bernard Longepee, pled guilty and was sentenced to a term of 97 months imprisonment. An Italian national, Manuel Ippoliti, pled guilty and was sentenced to a term of 112 months imprisonment. Operation Salako is a three-year joint investigation of the DEA Miami Field Division Jacksonville District Office, the DEA Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Country Office and the DEA Cartagena, Colombia Resident Office, with participation of ICE and the French National Police.