Photo: Drug Smuggling through Port of Savannah
Jose Orlando Garcia Duran, 33, a native of the Dominican Republic, was sentenced Wednesday to 286 months in federal prison for his role in smuggling cocaine and heroin through the Port of Savannah.
The case was the result of a joint investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Georgia Ports Authority Police Department. These agencies are members of the Maritime Interagency Center of Operations (MICO), created in 2007 to prevent and deter criminal activity and acts of terrorism in the Georgia Ports of Savannah and Brunswick.
Garcia Duran and codefendant Angel Gomez were convicted after a two-day jury trial on several charges relating to the smuggling of $500,000 worth of heroin and cocaine through the Port of Savannah. The evidence at trial showed that in March of 2010, Georgia Ports Authority Police became aware that three men disguised as longshoremen, who had disembarked the M/V Cosco Boston, a Chinese merchant vessel arriving from Panama, had boarded a taxi to take them to the gate of the Garden City Terminal.
When the taxi driver advised the men to have their identification ready, they jumped out of the taxi and ran into a wooded area. The three men, including Garcia Duran and Gomez, were eventually apprehended in the woods, where approximately four kilograms of cocaine and two kilograms of heroin were also found. At the time of arrest, Gomez confessed that he had been involved in bringing the drugs into the United States. The third man, Rodrigo Temple Wood, testified against Gomez and Garcia Duran at trial, explaining that the three men brought the drugs from Panama, each carrying two kilograms inside the back support belts they wore as part of their disguises. They were to meet the recipient of the drugs in Savannah.
Garcia Duran is the second of the three defendants indicted for the smuggling conspiracy to be sentenced. Wood pled guilty and was sentenced in August of 2010 to 76 months in prison. Gomez still awaits sentencing. Both Gomez and Garcia Duran have previous drug trafficking convictions and were previously deported from the United States. Mr. Tarver noted that there is no parole in the federal system. All three defendants will face deportation after completion of their prison terms.