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Contraband
08/27/2010

Drug smuggler sentenced to 17.5 years

Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force: "Operation Green Snow"

LAKE CHARLES, La. - The last of 18 individuals indicted for participating in a major drug smuggling organization was sentenced today to 17 ½ years in federal prison and five years supervised release following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Fletcher Freeman, Jr., 37, who has been in federal custody since March 2009, was sentenced by U. S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi, for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and other controlled substances and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Freeman and 17 others were previously indicted on a variety of drug trafficking and firearms charges following an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed "Operation Green Snow." After a five-day trial in November 2009, Freeman was found guilty on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and other controlled substances and one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

All were part of a cocaine and marijuana distribution enterprise that stretched from Mexico to Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. Drug loads destined for delivery to these locations passed through the Western District of Louisiana. The drugs were transported in motor vehicles by various couriers and were concealed in batteries modified with hidden compartments, air filter compartments, rocker panels, and other locations within the motor vehicles. Altogether, the organization was responsible for the distribution of approximately 200 kilograms of cocaine.

Twelve of the individuals have been sentenced. One has pled guilty and is waiting to be sentenced in the Southern District of Texas. Four remain at large and are fugitives.

"This sentence should serve as a warning of the consequences awaiting individuals who engage in large-scale criminal activity that puts Americans at risk," said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans. "As a member of the Chapa organization operating in this area, Freeman conducted himself with brazen impunity. Knowing that he will be spending many years behind bars is gratifying for HSI and the other local and international law enforcement agencies that worked tirelessly to see justice served in this case."

OCDETF is a joint multi-agency group consisting of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies with a cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking, and in this case involved the ICE HSI Resident Agent in Charge in Lake Charles, La., the Louisiana State Police Narcotics, and U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett L. Grayson.