Colombian Drug Kingpin And Cohort Extradited In New York Heroin Trafficking Scheme Millions Of Dollars In Heroin Smuggled In Freight Containers
MANHATTAN, N.Y. - Brian R. Crowell, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York (DEA), Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Joseph A. D’Amico, Superintendent of the New York State Police, announced today the extradition of Sergio Zuilanny Gordillo (aka “Andres”), who faces kingpin charges for smuggling millions dollars of heroin bound for New York via the Port of Miami.
Early this morning, Andres, who was arrested on April 9, was transported from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he had lived as a fugitive after fleeing authorities in Colombia. An arraignment is scheduled to take place today in Manhattan Supreme Court.
A second defendant, Luis Fernando Galleano (aka "Fernando"), who helped Andres run the drug trafficking operation, was extradited from Bogota, Colombia on December 12. Fernando pleaded not guilty at an arraignment before Judge Bruce Allen, Part 45, 111 Centre Street.
An indictment filed by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor charges both Andres and Fernando with Operating as a Major Trafficker under New York State’s kingpin statute, which carries a possible life sentence. They are also charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 1st Degree and Conspiracy in the Second Degree.
A long-term wiretap investigation by Special Narcotics, the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (DETF) T-12, DEA-Colombia, the Colombian National Police, and Homeland Security (HSI) Miami revealed that Andres oversaw an international drug empire from his base in Bogota, Colombia. The organization is believed to have shipped ton-quantities of narcotics around the globe, including multiple massive shipments of heroin to the U.S.
The indictment centers on a shipment of 16 kilos of (over 35 lbs.) that was seized from a freighter ship in Miami on January 10, 2012 as a result of the wiretap investigation. The heroin was concealed inside furniture. Assisting in the investigation were the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the DEA’s Miami Field Division.
Andres and Fernando allegedly orchestrated this shipment with the assistance of two other individuals: Geomar Richard Galleano Gasca, (aka “Richard”) in Colombia and Jairo (aka “Jairo”) in New York. Both were arrested earlier this year and are charged in the indictment.
During the investigation, agents learned that in January 2012 Andres, Fernando and Richard were planning to smuggle heroin from Colombia to Miami onboard a freight ship, the “Seaboard Pride." The fourth defendant, Jairo, was supposed to travel from New York City to Miami to pick up the heroin and then bring the shipment back to New York City for distribution.
Instead, the shipment of heroin was seized on January 10, 1012. Agents stopped the “Seaboard Pride” in the Port of Miami and found a total of 34 packages of heroin concealed inside four couches. These couches were packed into a shipping container with another 25 couches that did not contain narcotics.
Jairo was arrested in New York on January 12, 2012 as he prepared to travel to Miami to meet the shipment. He had planned to pick up the heroin in Miami and bring it to New York City for distribution. Unable to reach Jairo, the three Colombian drug traffickers believed he had simply quit the conspiracy and began to develop an alternate plan to get the shipment from Miami to New York. They remained unaware that Jairo had been arrested and their heroin seized. Colombia National Police observed the three defendants meeting in the Juan Valdez Cafe on Centro Bulevar Niza in Bogota Colombia on Jan. 17, 2012, just one week after their New York contact Jairo disappeared. The investigation revealed that the three men met to discuss sending someone else to claim the shipment in Miami during this meeting.
The investigation utilized wiretaps on cellphones and email accounts in both the United States and Colombia. Intercepted phone conversations and email messages demonstrate each defendant’s role in the conspiracy. Specifically, Andres, while in Colombia, directed the operation and provided details about the shipment of heroin onboard the “Seaboard Pride” to other members of the organization. He also gave instructions on how to transport the kilos of heroin and paid for the heroin to be transported from Colombia to New York.
Fernando, while in Colombia, coordinated the transportation route for the couches containing the heroin from Colombia to New York. Richard, also in Colombia, planned to have the heroin picked up in Miami and delivered to New York. He also attempted to pick up the furniture and send it to New York.
In February, Andres fled Bogota and became the subject of an Interpol notice seeking his arrest. Local Argentinian authorities, the Colombian National Police and the DEA tracked Andres to Buenos Aires, where he had taken a job at a restaurant. He was arrested at his home in Buenos Aires on April 9.
Fernando and Richard were arrested in Bogota by the Colombia National Police on March 6. Richard remains in Colombia pending extradition to New York, where he faces charges of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 1st Degree and Conspiracy in the Second Degree. Jairo is behind bars in New York awaiting trial on charges of Attempted Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 1st Degree and Conspiracy in the Second Degree.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell stated, “A New York State Drug Kingpin has arrived in New York as a result of criminal charges for his role in an international heroin conspiracy. The New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, along with federal, state, local and international law enforcement partners successfully broke down the heroin distribution organization led by Sergio Zuilanny Gordillo Joya, which led to his arrest in Argentina, where he was hiding as a fugitive. According to SAMSHA, the number of Americans who reported that they used heroin in the past 12 months rose 66% in 2012. DEA is aggressively targeting those responsible for flooding our streets with heroin. This past year the DEA New York Division has seized 50% more heroin than last and will continue to target organizations trafficking heroin into our communities.”
Bridget G. Brennan said, “The conduct charged in this indictment is exactly the sort of crime that the New York Kingpin statute was designed to address. High-level foreign traffickers shipped enough heroin to flood the streets of the New York metropolitan area, looking for millions of dollars to fund other criminal operations in return. Fortunately, agents managed to seize the heroin while still concealed in furniture in the Port of Miami. I thank the Colombian National Police and the agencies that make up New York’s Drug Enforcement Task Force for their commitment to this case.”
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said: “No matter how you couch it, illegal drugs like the heroin intercepted in this case corrupts lives and attracts violence to our neighborhoods. Thanks to NYPD investigators and their partners in the office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and federal counterparts, these dealers have been stopped.”
NYSP Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said, "Thanks to the hard work of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, major drug traffickers will again be brought to justice. These men were responsible for shipping tons of drugs around the world. This partnership of federal, state and local law enforcement working together not only stopped a large shipment of narcotics in its tracks and kept drugs off our streets, a drug kingpin is back in the United States and he and his associates will answer to these charges.”