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27 defendants charged in narcotics trafficking operation at Miami International Airport

MIAMI- Twenty-seven members of an international drug trafficking organization operating primarily through Miami International Airport (MIA) were charged with federal narcotics violations, following an investigation by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD).

Eighteen defendants were arrested and appeared in Magistrate Court today. Nine of the defendants remain at large. Detention hearings are scheduled for next week.

Charged in five separate indictments were Nelson Albarracin, 52, Angel Reyes, 41, Renzo Oberto, 31, Josue Rubio, 39, James Pena, 49, Yunier Perez Cruz, 37, Reginald Richard, 37, Alfredo Barreto, 49, Balbino Armando Ramos, 49, Jose Alfonso Medina, 34, Robert Marquez, 29, Michael Boveda, 29, Hasiel Gonzalez Rodriguez, 32, Lazaro Nunez, 43, Elio Sanchez, 37, Carlos Ramones, 32, Hugo Morales, 41, Luis Neda, 30, Jose Neda, 37, Francisco Gonzalez, 47, Rolando Rubio, 47, Carlos Antonio Jorges Mendez, 59, Alexander Suarez, 26, Francisco Jose Sotelo, 64, Milton Humberto Felix, 46, Jorge Luis Rodriguez, 38, and Alexander Valdes, 39.

This joint investigation began in the spring of 2007 and focused on long-term narcotics traffickers importing drugs, including cocaine and heroin, through MIA for subsequent distribution in Miami. As a result of this proactive investigation, the defendants were charged with federal narcotics violations, including importation and possession and distribution of cocaine and heroin. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years to life in prison, without the possibility of parole.

"This case demonstrates that drug smuggling organizations will utilize any means available to smuggle narcotics into the United States," said Anthony Mangione, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Miami. "ICE works closely with our federal and state partners to target the means and methods used by drug traffickers and to dismantle those organizations."

U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, "The smuggling of any contraband through MIA threatens our domestic security. The smuggling of narcotics is no exception. This prosecution is one example of what we can accomplish when we work together to make our airports safer and more secure."

"Access to a secure transportation network, such as an international airport, gives drug traffickers an open window to bring drugs into our communities," said Mark R. Trouville, special agent in charge of the DEA Miami Field Division. "These windows were closed through the collaborative efforts of DEA and our law enforcement partners."

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Hoffman.