Virginia & Federal Authorities
JUL 22-- FAIRFAX – The estimated $3.1 million worth of duct-taped “bricks” of pure Colombian heroin and cocaine were destined for the United States when Virginia State Police and Drug Enforcement Administration Agency (DEA) agents intercepted the shipment at a South American airport. Further investigation led to the recent arrests of two Colombian men, one of whom has been a major South American drug trafficker for almost 20 years.
“We knew that these drugs were destined for New York and other northeast cities by way of Virginia , and believe we have choked-off a key heroin and cocaine smuggling route,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Terry Parham. “Keeping kilos of deadly heroin off our streets impacts us all and shows how drug enforcement partners in the U.S. and several South American countries work together to stop it at the source.”
Through an extensive investigation, DEA and State Police special agents were able to trace the origins of certain heroin and cocaine shipments back to Tito Arenas-Cristancho, 45, of Cúcata , Colombia . By posing as a customer, the agents were able to secure a shipment of 29 kilograms of heroin and 25 kilograms of cocaine to be sent to the U.S.
Packaged in one kilogram “bricks,” the heroin and cocaine were seized en route to the U.S. The estimated street value of one kilo of heroin is between $80,000 and $85,000; pure cocaine can yield up to $25,000 a kilo.
Arenas-Cristancho, also known as Luis Chacon, was apprehended without incident by Colombian Colombia National Police and U.S. federal agents on May 31, 2005 at the Venezuelan border. He has been operating as a major supplier of both heroin and cocaine since 1986.
Also taken into custody May 31, 2005 was Hernando “José” Cely-Lozano, 47, of Bogotá, Colombia. Cely-Lozano, a lieutenant in Arenas-Cristancho’s organization, was arrested without incident in Colombia .
Arenas-Christancho and Cely-Lozano are pending extradition to the U.S. on the following six federal charges:
“This has been one of the most significant drug investigations the State Police has ever been involved in,” said Captain Gary M. Jenkins, Fairfax Division Commander, Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations. “By pooling the resources and expertise of federal, state and local law enforcement, these agents were able to successfully retrace and dismantle an entire drug supply chain all the way back to its international source.”
Assisting the state and federal special agents with the ongoing investigation is the Eastern District of Virginia United States Attorney’s Office.
The DEA and State Police investigators are members of a Northern Virginia drug task force that includes Arlington , Loudoun, Fairfax and Prince William county police departments, Alexandria and Vienna police departments, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service. The multi-agency task force is coordinated and funded through the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).