News Release
December 1, 2006
Erin Mulvey
(212) 337-2906

Cali Heroin Trafficker Pleads Guilty To Federal Charges

DEC 1 -- JOHN P. GILBRIDE, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division and MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JAMES DARIO VIVAS YEPES pleaded guilty yesterday in Manhattan federal court to an indictment charging him with distributing heroin in Colombia with the knowledge and intent that such heroin would be imported into the United States.

VIVAS YEPES pleaded guilty to Count One of an indictment that was filed on January 13, 2005. According to court papers, following a lengthy investigation, including judicially-approved interceptions of telephone conversations conducted by the Colombian National Police in conjunction with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), VIVAS YEPES was ultimately arrested in Colombia, where he was headquartered, and then extradited to the United States. The indictment charges that between January and September 2004, VIVAS YEPES coordinated and distributed multi-kilogram quantities of heroin in Colombia and other Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, with the intent that such heroin would be shipped to the United States. VIVAS YEPES and others smuggled the heroin in a variety of ways, including secreting it into merchant marine uniforms, books, photo albums, and VHS cassettes. Prosecutors allege that in the relevant time period, VIVAS YEPES was involved in the distribution of more than $2 million worth of heroin.

VIVAS YEPES faces a maximum prison term of life, and in his plea earlier today, agreed that he was a career offender, having twice previously been convicted of narcotics offenses in the United States, and that his applicable Sentencing Guidelines Range is 262-327 months’ imprisonment. VIVAS YEPES is scheduled to be sentenced on March 8, 2007, before United States District Judge GEORGE B. DANIELS.

Mr. GARCIA praised the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (comprised of special agents of the DEA, narcotics investigators of the New York State Police, and New York City Police Department detectives), the DEA’s Bogota, Colombia Country Office, and the Colombian National Police for their outstanding work and collaboration in this investigation.

Assistant United States Attorney NEIL BAROFSKY is in charge of the prosecution.