As the ever-growing drug trafficking trade continues to push illegal drugs into our country, our law enforcement community continues to hamper their efforts in the ongoing war on drugs.
Recently at Miami International Airport, a Columbian man was arrested after seven cocaine-filled pellets were found concealed in his groin area. This recent arrest has led to the discovery of a drug-trafficking ring encompassing the South Florida area, according to federal court documents released in Miami.
Daniel Restrepo’s March 30th arrest shortly after he arrived from Medellin, Columbia aboard an Avianca Airlines jet, created a chain of events that led to the detention of a South Florida woman (Karen Blandon) as well. Blandon is allegedly the key US contact in this Columbian drug ring, stated the criminal complaint filed in federal court.
Six South Florida men are now awaiting trial in Miami as the DEA continues to build its case against them in the most recent trafficking case in the South Florida area. After a year-long investigation into this ring, things began to unravel as they discovered the network operations were centered in Hialeah. Through surveillance of those involved, agents were able to gain the locations of the warehouses where the drugs were being held, and were then able to piece together the remainder of their case with this most recent arrest.
Restrepo was able to clear passport control without any problems but eventually drew the attention of customs officers.
“During an examination of Restrepo’s person, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered seven pellets of a white powdery substance concealed in Restrepo’s groin area,” according to a criminal complaint filed in Miami federal court. “A field test of the white powdery proved positive for the presence of cocaine.”
Officials estimated the weight of the cocaine to be about 245 grams, stated the complaint that was filed by a special agent of the Homeland Security Investigations team (a unit associated with Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE), who were also involved in the bust.
Restrepo seems to be cooperating with investigators as he disclosed in a statement that he was promised $5,000 to $6,000 for transporting the cocaine from Medellín, Colombia. Once he arrived in Florida he was to send a text message to his contact in Colombia to obtain further instructions. The man was instructed to send the message, at which time he received a reply with a telephone number and vehicle description so he could meet a man named “Kevin”. Restrepo then initiated contact, set-up a meeting at the Dolphin Mall for delivery and a team of HSI agents who were undercover at the time “sprung” their trap on the unsuspecting contact.
“A black Honda Accord arrived at the Dolphin Mall and the driver of the black Honda Accord got into the undercover vehicle,” the complaint said. “The individual inspected and received the narcotics.”
The contact who arrived in the Honda in named as Kevin Franco, who later revealed to investigators that a Columbian individual known only as “Palma” called him prior to the pick up, was arrested shortly afer receiving the drugs, according to the complaint. Franco agreed to help officers track down the other members of the drug-smuggling ring and allowed investigators to text Palma and ask what the next move would be.
This led investigators to a Walgreens at the corner of Northwest 17th Avenue and Northwest 7th Street in Little Havana where they arrested Karen Blandon after she took possession of the delivery. Blandon later agreed to help investigators contact the rest of the “players” involved in this ring.
Blandon, Franco and Restrepo have all been indicted on charges and are awaiting trial, but further comments regarding the case are still vague as HIS continues this ongoing investigation.