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Contraband
08/31/2012

HSI Newark and Spanish authorities combat narcotics smuggling

3 arrested in Barcelona after cocaine was intercepted in New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. — Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), along with the Spanish Guardia Civil, arrested three individuals Tuesday in Barcelona, Spain, for violations of Spanish drug laws.

Oleksii Stepanets, a Ukrainian national; Eduard Medvedev, a Russian national; and Edgar Palma Bofill, a Spanish national, were arrested in Barcelona pursuant to a controlled delivery of 2.23 kilograms of cocaine initiated by HSI Newark.

"The success of this operation overseas is indicative of the excellent relationship HSI Madrid maintains with their Spanish counterparts and a prime example of what can be accomplished through international cooperation," said Attaché Alexander Alonso, HSI Madrid.

"These arrests clearly demonstrate the combined strength that HSI and international law enforcement agencies bring to bear in the battle against narcotics smuggling," said Andrew McLees, special agent in charge of HSI Newark. "This cooperation with foreign governments represents HSI's broad footprint that extends beyond our border."

"Customs and Border Protection is on the frontline of intercepting illegal narcotics," said Robert E. Perez, director of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) New York Field Operations. "CBP continues to work closely with HSI and other law enforcement agencies to deter drug smuggling organizations."

On Aug. 21, 2012, CBP officers located at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark intercepted a shipment of pulleys containing approximately 2.23 kilograms of cocaine. The shipment, which originated in Costa Rica and arrived in Newark on a commercial aircraft, was manifested as auto parts destined for an auto shop in Barcelona.

HSI Newark coordinated with HSI Madrid in order to assist the Spanish Guardia Civil in the successful execution of an enforcement action. As a result, law enforcement arrested three individuals and seized a total of 2.99 kilograms of cocaine and precursor chemicals.

This arrest is linked to a previous seizure of 10 kilograms of cocaine which was also intercepted at Newark Liberty International Airport. The wholesale value of the cocaine is more than $500,000.

Law enforcement both in the United States and Spain continue to follow-up on all investigative leads.