Twenty-eight individuals have been arrested for their alleged roles in a cocaine trafficking ring based in Northern Virginia that uses couriers to regularly import large amounts of cocaine from Honduras hidden in shoes and decorative wooden frames. Members of the trafficking ring have allegedly wired more than $1 million from the United States back to cocaine suppliers in Honduras.
Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the charges became public.
“Through creativity and coordination, this tight network of Honduran immigrants allegedly distributed vast amounts of cocaine throughout Northern Virginia and across the mid-Atlantic,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Thanks to close partnerships among law enforcement, we were able to put together the case that led to today’s charges.”
“These individuals face charges for their alleged involvement in a drug trafficking ring that brought large amounts of cocaine into our communities,” said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “Together with our law enforcement partners, the FBI will continue to target international drug conspiracies as we diligently work to keep our neighborhoods and citizens safe.”
According to a criminal complaint affidavit, between 2006 and May 2012, a contingent of Honduran immigrants living in and around Fairfax County have coordinated with sources of supply in Honduras to pay couriers to fly cocaine from Honduras to the United States on a regular basis. Much of the couriers’ baggage would contain items that were not contraband, such as clothing, food, and Honduras-related trinkets, so the conspirators would hide cocaine in innocuous items, typically wooden frames and shoes, that would blend in with the couriers’ other cargo.
The affidavit alleges that once the couriers arrived in the United States, members of the conspiracy would pick up the items containing cocaine from the couriers and then distribute it to dealers in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and Massachusetts, who in turn would send sale proceeds back to Honduras through wire transfers.
Leaders of the conspiracy allegedly supply wholesale quantities of the imported cocaine to co-conspirators, who are themselves street-level dealers or who supply other street-level dealers. It is alleged that the leaders know each other, use the same network of Honduran suppliers, and often retrieve cocaine from couriers intended for another leader to pick up at a later time.
According to the affidavit, the trafficking ring was discovered in the autumn of 2011 by law enforcement after the investigation and arrest of Lindor Delis Martinez-Guevara, aka Lindo or Genero, 38, of Falls Church, Va., and Melcy Yalexsy Guevara-Barrera, aka Pedro or Primo, 35, of Vienna, Va., by the Fairfax County Police Department. The affidavit states that Lindor moved from Honduras to Virginia to deal cocaine and that he was the person who came up with the idea to hide cocaine in frames.
Lindor, Melcy, Samuel Benitez-Pineda, aka Wilfredo Benitez or Roque or Chiripa, 34, of Arlington, Va., and Jose Fredy Delcid, aka Oscar Salgado or Oscar or Franklin or Chami or Matador, 34, of Falls Church, Va., are some of the members of the conspiracy who allegedly worked directly with sources of supply in Honduras to import cocaine into the United States. They in turn allegedly worked with a large group of people with and through whom they distributed the cocaine, including the following individuals who were arrested by law enforcement:
- Hector Mauricio Amaya, aka Conejo or Kaubil, 36, of Falls Church, Va.
- Genis Jhesson Amaya-Pena, aka Jenis Yexon Amaya-Pena or Flaco or Juanchope, 25, of Vienna, Va.
- Marvin Eduardo Escobar Barrios, aka Catracho or Garrobo, 37, of West Falls Church, Va.
- Wilson Reniery Guevara, aka Wilsson R. Guevara, 34, of Manassas, Va.
- Joel Lopez, 41, of Springfield, Va.
- Annelo Argueta Reyes, aka Nelo, 35, of Falls Church, Va.
- Mario Noel Medina-Aguilar, aka Noel, 28, of Falls Church, Va.
- Julio Giovanni Nolasco, aka Puma, 18, of Falls Church Va.
- Concepcion Benitez-Pineda, aka Conchi or Concha, 38, of Arlington, Va.
- Mario Benitez-Pineda, aka Chaparro or Cuzuco, 42, of Falls Church, Va.
- Santos Efrain Carbajal Benites, 24, of Arlington, Va.
- Angel Zelaya Lizama, aka El Diablo, 29, of Falls Church, Va.
- Jose Delores Vanegas, aka Chivito, 40, of Arlington, Va.
- Isaias Abrego-Mancia, 28, of Herndon, Va.
- Rudy Humberto Tabaro, aka Rudy Humberto Tabara or Colocho, 30, of Lutherville, Md.
- Edwin Espana Morales, 38, of Riverdale, Md.
- Jose Lorenzo Saravia, aka Jose Saravia-Lozano, 40, of Manassas, Va.
- FNU LNU, aka Alex or Gordito, of Falls Church, Va.
- Maria Florinda Benitez-Pineda, aka Flor or Loli, 26, of Baltimore, Md.
- Jose Maria Benites-Pineda, 32, of Arlington, Va.
- Jose Enrique Funez, aka Jose Enrique Funz-Garay or Jose Enrique Funes-Garay or Rick, 40, of Norfolk, Va.
- Martin Juarez-Lopez, 19, of Falls Church, Va.
- Gloria Elena Olivia Castro, 25, of Springfield, Va.
- Joaquin Avila-Rodriguez, aka Pollo, 40, of Herndon, Va.
Those named in the criminal complaint were charged with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, which carries a minimum mandatory of five years in prison and a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.
In addition, the complaint affidavit contains allegations that members of the conspiracy engaged in the distribution of crack cocaine, money laundering, and various firearm offenses.
This ongoing investigation was led by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, in partnership with the Fairfax County, Arlington County, City of Falls Church, and Prince William County Police Departments; Virginia State Police; Northern Virginia Gang Task Force; Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.