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Colombian man pleads guilty to importing heroin via commercial airline

ORLANDO, Fla. — A Colombian man pleaded guilty Thursday to an indictment charging him with importing heroin into the United States from Colombia and possession of heroin with intent to distribute in the United States. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

William Paez Rubiano, 40, of Colombia, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each count, and a fine of up to $2,000,000. He is currently detained pending his sentencing hearing Sept. 15.

"HSI continues to work relentlessly to eradicate drugs and crime on behalf of our citizens," said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge for HSI Tampa.

Paez Rubiano admitted that, May 8, he arrived in Orlando from Bogota, Colombia, aboard JetBlue Airways Flight 1784, traveling with his wife and their 7-year-old daughter. Upon arrival at the Orlando International Airport, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) K-9 Officer conducted a canine sweep of Paez Rubiano and his family, including their carry-on luggage.

The canine positively alerted to the odor of narcotics emanating from the carry-on luggage. Paez Rubiano's carry-on luggage was examined and the officers discovered, concealed inside the linings of the luggage, a brown powder substance that yielded positive results to the presence of heroin. Paez Rubiano accepted responsibility for the drugs, which was more than three kilograms of heroin.