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Jamaican brothers extradited to US on narcotics trafficking charges

Drug couriers hid cocaine in retractable luggage handrails

NEWARK, N.J. - Roger and Romeo Folkes, 39 and 27, of Jamaica, West Indies, were extradited to the United States on charges of conspiracy to import and export cocaine into the United States following an international investigation by agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Newark.

According to court documents filed in the extradition proceedings, the conspiracy involved drug couriers from the United States, including Tajara Barnes and Genard Howard who would travel to Jamaica and St. Lucia, where Roger and Romeo Folkes, and co-conspirator Mervin Francis would hide cocaine in the handrails of the couriers' luggage. The couriers would then return to the United States carrying the cocaine-filled luggage, where another co-conspirator, Cortnie Spencer would at times take possession of the luggage and deliver it to couriers who were scheduled to travel to Great Britain. Once in Great Britain, the couriers would deliver the cocaine to Nigel Roberts, Prine George Alfonso Jones, and others in exchange for payment.

Peter T. Edge, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Newark started: "HSI and our law enforcement partners are determined to bring drug smugglers to justice, wherever they go. They can not hide from our global reach."

Agencies also participating in the investigations include the Drug Enforcement Administration, West Midlands Police Complex Casework Unit in Birmingham; the Department of Homeland Security, HSI Attaché, Kingston, Jamaica; and officers of the United Kingdom Border Agency and the Jamaican Fugitive Apprehension Team (JFAT), composed of officers of the Jamaican Police and the United States Marshals Service in Kingston Jamaica and the Department of Justice Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs and the United States Attorney, District of New Jersey.

The other individuals charged in the superseding indictment are:

Nigel Roberts, 33, of Birmingham, England, who pleaded guilty on October 21, 2009 to conspiracy to import and export five kilos or more of cocaine and was sentenced to 80 months in prison on November 15, 2010.

Cortnie Spencer, 34, of Queens, N.Y., who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import and export five kilos or more of cocaine on April 19, 2010 and awaits sentencing.

Mervin Francis, 35, of Jamaica, was extradited from Great Britain and appeared in federal court in September 2009. On April 27, 2010, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import and export cocaine. He admitted that once the narcotics were received in Great Britain he received Western Union transfers on behalf of the conspirators that were sent as payment for the drugs. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison on August 9, 2010.

Tajara Barnes, 35, and Genard Howard, 35, both of Brooklyn, N.Y. were first arrested in London in May 2008. On April 27, 2010, Barnes and Howard both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import and export cocaine. Barnes and Howard admitted to conspiring to travel from the U.S. to St. Lucia on April 24, 2008 for the purpose of bringing back narcotics on May 1, 2008. While in St. Lucia they received narcotics from individuals including Francis. They admitted to then traveling from New York to London on May 5, 2008 with narcotics hidden in their suitcases. Howard was sentenced to 60 months in prison on November 15, 2010. Barnes awaits sentencing.

Prine George Alfonso Jones, 44, of Birmingham, was arrested on February 3, 2009 in Great Britain for allegedly transporting narcotics directly from St. Lucia to Great Britain, where he is currently in custody.

Both Folkes brothers are charged with conspiracy to import and export five kilos or more of cocaine, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and fines up to $4 million.