November 12, 2004
Contact: Elizabeth Jordan
Heroin Kingpin Extradicted To United States
12--Anthony P. Placido, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug
Enforcement Administration’s New York Office and David N. Kelly,
the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York,
announced the extradition and scheduled arraignment today of LUIS
ALBERTO IBARRA, a/k/a "Jacobo," a/k/a "El Gordo," a/k/a "Henry
Jose Teran," the alleged head of a heroin trafficking organization
based in Venezuela (the “Organization”) responsible for
importing more than 700 kilograms of heroin, worth an estimated $70
million, into the United States since 2001.
At present, 17 members of the Organization have been arrested,
and more than 30 kilograms of heroin seized in what has been described
by Venezuelan and United States law enforcement as one of
the largest joint heroin prosecutions ever brought.IBARRA was formally
extradited from Curacao on November 9, 2004,and will be arraigned in
Manhattan federal court later today.
The charges were the result of a joint investigation involving cooperation
between the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force ("OCDETF"),
the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), Bureau of Immigration
and Customs Enforcement ("BICE"), the New York City Police
Department (“NYPD”), and the New York State Police, together
Venezuelan Judicial Police.
According to a two-count Indictment and the formal request for extradition
(the "Extradition Package"), IBARRA used human couriers recruited
primarily in Caracas, Venezuela to smuggle heroin into the United States
from Venezuela by either ingesting pellets of heroin or carrying suitcases
in which heroin had been secreted. According to the Indictment, in order
to facilitate the couriers' travel from Venezuela, the Organization paid
a law enforcement officer who worked at the Simon Bolivar International
Airport in Caracas, Venezuela, approximately $2,500 to $3,500 per courier
per trip. In return, the law enforcement officer allegedly would ensure
that the couriers would clear through any security
checks at the airport, and intercede if any other law enforcement officer
detained one of the couriers.
The Indictment and the Extradition Package further allege that IBARRA's
couriers would travel by airplane to the United States and then check
into a hotel; once the couriers reached their final destination, they
would call IBARRA, who would then contact the local co-conspirators who
would then retrieve the heroin.
As part of the investigation, nine of IBARRA's couriers have been arrested
attempting to smuggle heroin into the United States, resulting in the
seizure of more than 30 kilograms of heroin. These arrests were made
in airports in Queens, New York,Atlanta, Georgia, Miami, Florida and
Houston, Texas. All of IBARRA's couriers have pled guilty, and IBARRA's
chief manager,Liddy Moya, a/k/a "Beatrice Ruguiero," who was
also extradited from Curacao, has also pled guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
According to the Extradition Package, IBARRA was arrested by the Korps
Politie Curacao, in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, pursuant to a provisional
arrest warrant. At the time of his arrest, IBARRA was carrying a false
If convicted, IBARRA faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a
mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.The Indictment also
seeks forfeiture from IBARRA of $70 million,based on his importation
of approximately 700 kilograms of heroin into the United States.
Assistant United States Attorneys NEIL M. BAROFSKY, MARC P. BERGER and
VICTOR L. HOU are in charge of the prosecution.