Drug Defendant Sentenced To Life In Federal Prison In Connection With Largest Ever Cocaine Seizure In Massachusetts History
Boston, MA .A Westport, Massachusetts man was sentenced today in federal court to a life term of imprisonment for his leadership role in a drug conspiracy. Investigation of the case resulted in the seizure of a 260 kilogram shipment of cocaine - the largest ever seizure in Massachusetts history.
Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division, United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, Steven J. Farquharson, District Director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in New England; Colonel Thomas J. Foley, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Michael Healy, Chief of the Westport Police Department; John M. Sousa, Chief of the Fall River Police Department; and Arthur J. Kelly, Chief of the New Bedford Police Department; announced today that Chief U.S. District Judge William G. Young sentenced RAFAEL YEJE-CABRERA, age 27, formerly of 20 LePire Avenue, Westport, Massachusetts, to life imprisonment, without the possibility of probation or parole. Chief Judge Young also imposed a $16 million fine.
"The life sentence handed down today by the Court clearly sends the message that trafficking in drugs can be a life changing event," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Mark Trouville. "Life behind bars is appropriate for those traffickers who deal in death and destruction. We will continue to aggressively pursue those who bring drugs into our communities."
In imposing sentence of YEJE-CABRERA, Chief Judge Young stated, "The illegal conduct here was massive and without legal restraint. The enormity of the crime staggers the imagination, and it kills as certainly as direct assaults on the person." In weighing whether to assess an additional penalty against YEJE-CABRERA for threatening the witness, Chief Judge Young decided not to enhance his sentence under the Sentencing Guidelines for obstruction of justice, but rather to take YEJE-CABRERA's conduct into account when deciding the length of the sentence. The government had offered evidence that YEJE-CABRERA had repeatedly threatened the witness who had decided to testify against him, in one case suggesting that if anyone talked, "bodies will drop."
On December 12, 2002, following a six-week trial, a jury convicted YEJE-CABRERA of conspiring to distribute cocaine, and specifically found that YEJE-CABRERA had conspired to distribute in excess of 260 kilograms. YEJE-CABRERA was also convicted of paying a $100,000 bribe to an agent posing as a corrupt INS agent in an attempt to get out of INS custody and to protect his drug trafficking organization and of attempting to possess 260 kilograms of cocaine with the intent to distribute it.
The jury also convicted YEJE-CABRERA's three co-defendants: Wilfredo Perez, age 35, Nerys Cabrera, age 48, and William Olivero, age 25, of conspiring to distribute cocaine. All three defendants are pending sentencing.
Of the 21 individuals originally indicted on December 21, 2001, fifteen have previously pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. One defendant, Jason Pacheco, age 26, is scheduled for trial on March 3, 2003.
The evidence at trial showed that YEJE-CABRERA and his partners, including his mother, father, two uncles, a brother and a cousin, received four or five truckloads of cocaine and marijuana from a supplier in Arizona. The cocaine was distributed from July 2000 through December 21, 2001, in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and Atlanta. The evidence also showed that the last truckload, which was seized by the Massachusetts State Police on December 8, 2001, contained 260 kilograms of cocaine. Law enforcement agents were able to track the truck from New York to New Bedford, Massachusetts based on conversation intercepted pursuant to court-authorized wiretaps of five of the organizations telephones. That seizure of cocaine-with a street value estimated at 20.6 million-was the largest seizure of cocaine in Massachusetts's history.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Massachusetts State Police, the Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General, and the Westport, Fall River, and New Bedford Police Departments.