News Americas, PHILADELPHIA, PA, Thurs. July 23, 2015: A 37-year-old Dominican Republic-born immigrant will spend the next 25 years of his life in jail after being found guilty of operating a large-scale cocaine smuggling operation in the U.S.
Edwin Fernandez of Philadelphia was operating a large-scale cocaine smuggling operation from the Dominican Republic through the Philadelphia airport.
Fernandez was bringing dozens of kilos of cocaine into United States via Philadelphia International Airport from the Dominican Republic. About 70 kilograms of cocaine in Philadelphia and the Dominican Republic was intercepted during the seizure and investigation.
Between December 2011 and July 2012, Fernandez, worked with a Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic drug trafficking organization (Santo Domingo DTO) to smuggle approximately 150 kilograms of cocaine into the country. The Philadelphia organization recruited several individuals who worked at U.S. Airways to assist in the operation.
The Santo Domingo DTO employed several individuals, including airport employees in Santo Domingo, to ensure that bags filled with kilograms of cocaine were safely loaded aboard commercial airplanes destined for Philadelphia.
After the bags were safely loaded onto the plane in Santo Domingo, members of the Santo Domingo DTO alerted Fernandez who then notified the recruits to assist in the offloading of the bags at the Philadelphia airport.
Once the plane arrived in Philadelphia, the recruited U.S. Airways employees would offload the baggage from the plane and divert the bags with the drugs onto domestic baggage claim belts, rather than the international baggage claim belts, which are inspected by CBP personnel. Fernandez then arranged for those bags to be retrieved from domestic baggage claim belts for distribution to domestic drug organizations.
He pleaded guilty on Jan. 5, 2015 to all six counts of the indictment including: conspiracy to import five kilograms or more of cocaine; importation of five kilograms or more of cocaine; attempted importation of five kilograms or more of cocaine; conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine; and two counts of attempted possession with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Stewart Dalzell ordered a $5,000 fine, 10 years of supervised release, and a $600 special assessment.