Importer of cocaine from St Vincent gets lengthy US jail term
WASHINGTON D.C., United States, Monday July 1, 2013 – The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says that a Baltimore, Maryland man has been sentenced to 15-and-a-half-years in jail for conspiracy to import cocaine from St Vincent and the Grenadines and distribute it in Maryland.
After an investigation by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Metropolitan Area Drug Task Force, ICE said Lorenzo Solomon, 28, was sentenced by US District Judge Roger W. Titus to 188 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release.
ICE said co-conspirator Ronnie George, 27, pleaded guilty to “participation in the drug conspiracy” and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.
The immigration agency said Titus “enhanced” Solomon’s sentence on finding that he was “a leader of the conspiracy” and that he obstructed justice by attempting to intimidate witnesses to prevent them from testifying against him at trial.
ICE said, between April and December 2010, Solomon arranged with “co-conspirators in St Vincent” to send him packages containing up to a kilogram of cocaine, “hidden in the soles of flip-flops
“Once Solomon retrieved the packages, he would remove the cocaine and sell it to others in Maryland, who would then distribute it,” it said in a statement.
“To pay for the drugs, witnesses testified that Solomon arranged to have friends and family members send large amounts of cash via Western Union and MoneyGram, most frequently in US$2,000 increments, which Solomon provided them,” it added.
ICE said Solomon recruited George to send money on his behalf, and that, “in addition to providing him cash to send to St Vincent, Solomon provided George several hundred dollars in cash or merchandise as compensation for sending money.
“Solomon suggested that George recruit friends to send money to reduce the chance of the scheme being detected, which he did,” the statement said, adding that Solomon also “recruited his sister, girlfriend and others to send money to St Vincent for him”.
According to court documents, more than 17 individuals sent a total of US$117,270 from the United States to St Vincent between April and November 2010.
ICE said on November 26, 2010, CBP officers intercepted a “package of cocaine-filled flip flops intended for Solomon, but addressed to a friend”.
ICE said CBP transferred the package to the Metropolitan Area Drug Task Force to attempt a controlled delivery of the package to the Takoma Park address listed on the package.
After unsuccessfully attempting to deliver the package on December 6, 2010, ICE said HSI special agents left a note on the door advising of the attempted delivery of the package and provided a telephone number to call to arrange delivery.
ICE said Solomon returned to the United States in March 2011, and on April 6, 2011, George and Solomon were indicted on drug conspiracy charges.
George was arrested and pleaded guilty, but Solomon was not located until after George’s sentencing March 2012, ICE said. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)