Colombian drug trafficker Carlos Ojeda-Herrera pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle in the District of Columbia to conspiring and attempting to transport shipments of 700- 800 kilograms of cocaine from Isla de Margarita, off the coast of Venezuela, to vessels waiting on the high seas to transport the drugs to Florida, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.
According to court documents, Ojeda-Herrera was unaware that the transportation organization he hired to import the cocaine was actually a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) undercover crew representing themselves to be drug traffickers. Co-defendant Julio Ramirez pleaded guilty on March 25, 2011, to conspiracy for his role in the scheme.
Ojeda-Herrera and Ramirez were charged on Aug. 12, 2004, in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin, knowing and intending that the drugs would be imported into the United States. Ojeda-Herrera was also charged with attempted distribution of five kilograms or more of cocaine, knowing and intending that the drugs would be imported into the United States.
According to court documents, between 2001 and 2002, confidential sources and undercover DEA agents posed as a boat crew willing to transport loads of cocaine from international waters off the coast of Venezuela into the United States. This undercover DEA crew was hired by the Ojeda-Herrera organization to transport 700-800 kilogram loads of cocaine from Isla de Margarita to the United States.
Arrangements for the delivery of cocaine to the undercover DEA crew continued through March 2002. According to court documents, due to losses of cocaine suffered by the organization in Colombia, however, Ojeda-Herrera temporarily suspended attempts to deliver cocaine to the DEA undercover crew. Instead, the organization began transporting small shipments of cocaine and heroin to Puerto Rico in order to earn enough money to pay the organization’s narcotics-related debts.
According to the plea agreement, Ojeda-Herrera is to be sentenced to 17 years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release. Ramirez and Ojeda-Herrera are subject to a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison.