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Member of organization that smuggled cocaine sentenced to 70 months in prison

NEWARK, N.J. — The extradited leader of an organization that smuggled cocaine aboard commercial airlines from the West Indies to England via the United States was sentenced in federal court Monday to 120 months in prison. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Drug Enforcement Administration's New Jersey Division — in coordination with police officers from the West Midlands Police Complex Casework Unit in Birmingham, England.

Romeo Folkes, 28, who was extradited from Jamaica in November 2010, previously pleaded guilty in May 2011 to an indictment charging him with conspiracy to import and export cocaine. He was remanded to custody without bail. Folkes entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh, who also imposed Monday's sentence.

"HSI and our law enforcement partners will use all of its global investigative tools to stop the illegal movement of drugs into the country," said Andrew McLees, acting special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Newark. "HSI intends to bring these criminals to justice, denying them the profits they so desperately desire."

According to documents filed in this and related cases and statements made in court:

Romeo Folkes pleaded guilty to an international cocaine-trafficking conspiracy. He admitted that he and his brother, Roger Folkes, 40, and Mervin Francis, 36, acquired cocaine in Jamaica and St. Lucia, concealed that cocaine in luggage, and provided that cocaine-filled luggage to drug couriers who transported it by commercial airlines to Great Britain after making stops in the United States.

Romeo Folkes' guilty plea and sentencing stem from an international investigation into narcotics trafficking. The investigation has resulted in multiple narcotics seizures and the guilty pleas of 13 individuals.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Cavanaugh sentenced Romeo Folkes to four years of supervised release. His brother, Roger Folkes, 40, the leader of the smuggling organization, was sentenced on Oct. 24, 2011 to 10 years in prison.