Twelve individuals from the Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland – and the country of Panama – have been charged in a 20-count indictment alleging international drug trafficking.
The charges result from an extensive investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The nearly three-year investigation involved federal and local law enforcement agencies in the United States and Panama.
According to the indictment and court statements, U.S.-based defendants Edmund, Cook and Archer recruited primarily female couriers to travel to Panama to smuggle multiple kilograms of heroin and cocaine from Panama to the United States. Most of the couriers smuggled the drugs in small compartments sewn into Lycra shorts in an effort to avoid law enforcement detection. After a number of couriers using that method were arrested, the organization began concealing the drugs within hair weaves and wigs.
Regardless of the smuggling methods, once the couriers received the drugs they traveled by bus or airplane to Mexico, where they ultimately crossed or attempted to cross the U.S. border in Texas border towns.