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Former fugitive sentenced to nearly 16 years in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering

HOUSTON — A man formerly of Cypress, Texas, and Detroit, Mich., was sentenced Friday to 15 years and eight months in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering. This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Currency and Narcotics Enforcement Task Force (CNET).

John Callen Jr., 52, fled Texas after CNET members found cocaine, heroin and several firearms at his upscale Cypress home in August 2003. He remained a fugitive until December 2010 when U.S. Marshals Service deputies found him in Michigan living under an alias. Callen pleaded guilty Feb. 7 to all three counts in the indictment before U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon, without a plea agreement.

At the June 29 hearing, Callen apologized and stated, “I deserve mercy.” Judge Harmon then sentenced Callen to 188 months on the conspiracy charge as well as the drug conviction. He also sentenced Callen to 188 months for money laundering; the sentences will be served concurrently. Judge Harmon noted that at the time of his arrest, Callen possessed marijuana, scales and money believed to be derived from drug proceeds. In addition to the sentence, Judge Harmon ordered Callen to forfeit more than $400,000 in U.S. currency, and his property located in Cypress. Callen must also serve five years of supervised release after he completes his prison term, and pay a $5,000 fine.

At a plea hearing earlier this year, Callen admitted that his principal source of income in 2003 was from drug trafficking. On Aug. 5, 2003, he received 14 kilograms (31 lbs.) of cocaine delivered to his then home on Wincrest Falls Drive in Cypress from a co-defendant. That co-defendant received $249,005 in cash from Callen which he was to deliver to the cocaine supplier. However, the money never made it to the supplier because CNET had the entire transaction under both physical and aerial surveillance.

The money was seized from the vehicle driven by the co-defendant as it left Callen's residence. Callen's home was searched and the following items were seized: the 14 kilograms of cocaine, a kilogram of heroin, 14 marijuana plants growing in the backyard, $160,000 in cash, and 10 firearms. Three kilograms of cocaine were also found the same day in a southeast Houston storage locker used by the source of supply.

CNET is comprised of HSI special agents and officers from the following agencies: the Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff's Department, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Callen will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The two co-defendants were arrested in 2003, were convicted following their guilty pleas and were sentenced to prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertram Isaacs, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.