Federal Drug Conspiracy Indictments Returned Against 41 People
ATLANTA (AP) _ Federal indictments unsealed Friday charged 41 people with operating a $1 billion cocaine-smuggling ring that shuttled drugs from Colombia to airstrips in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and northern Florida, and then to Miami for distribution.
The indictments, unseald in Atlanta, resulted from a nearly year-long undercover investigation by law officers who posed as airstrip owners interested in joining the ring, said U.S. Attorney Stephen S. Cowen.
Federal grand juries in Macon, Mobile and Birmingham, Ala., Knoxville, Tenn., and Miami also returned indictments against some of those listed in the Atlanta indictment, Cowen said.
More than 100 officers arrested 30 of the 41 Thursday and seized about $6 million in property, said Ron Caffrey of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Twenty-five people were charged with racketeering. They and 16 others also face various conspiracy and smuggling charges for allegedly importing more than 3,400 kilograms, or about four tons, of cocaine with a wholesale value of $150 million between 1982 and 1986.
The Vice President’s Joint Task Force on Drugs reports that the cocaine had a retail value of $1 billion.
The only major shipment listed in the indictment is about 100 kilograms, or 220 pounds, of cocaine taken to Washington from Miami in December 1985. The indictment said some of the ring’s money was flown through Los Angeles to London but it gave no details.
The group is accused of arranging 11 plane trips, five of which drug agents were able to intercept, that brought cocaine from Colombia to the rural airstrips, Cowen said.
Caffrey said the smugglers shipped the drugs to the rural airstrips to avoid stepped-up law enforcement surveillance in southern Florida.
Once in the Southeast, the drugs were shipped back to Miami, believed to be the home base for nationwide distribution of cocaine and home of many of the largest smugglers.
The undercover investigation, dubbed Operation Quartermaster, was developed by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force for the Southeast Region, headquartered in Atlanta.
Indicted were Juana McNair Smith, 22, of Rochelle; Carlos Caraballa-Lujan, 51; Carlos Caraballo-Sandoval, 22; Henry Caraballo-Sandoval, 22; Rolando Zaldivar, 55; Pedro Zaldivar, 20; Miguel Zaldivar, 22; Rolandito Zaldivar, 32; Maria Zaldivar, 45; William E. Babun Jr., 24; Alvaro Quijano Verplank, 58; and Carlos Vasquez, 22, all of Miami.
Also John William French, 34, of Atlanta; William Leslie Dollar, 37, of Stockbridge, Ga.; Jeffrey Michilotti Bissel, 29, of Moses Lake, Fla.; Raul Fernando Avendano, 39, of North Miami, Fla.; Nelson De La Torre, 30, of Hollywood, Fla.; Steven Dudley Smith, 32 of Tampa, Fla.; David Anderson Burt, 32, address unknown; Corry Luther Burt, 56, address unknown; Jeffrey Martin Daniel, 34, address unknown; Juan Estaban Ruiz-Gomez, 41, of South Miami, Fla.; Henry Edsel Holmes, 63, of Hialeah, Fla.; Tommy Edsel Holmes, 40, of Opa Locka, Fla.; Ronald Seth Smith, 33, of North Miami, Fla.
Also, Richard William Renner, 39, address unknown; Samuel Klaus Burchard, 40, of Phil Campbell, Ala.; Boyce Euzzel Glosson, 45, of Hialeah, Fla.; Thomas Randolf Drummond, 44, of Brandon, Fla.; Ronald Dwight Butler, 43, of Hollywood, Fla.; Theophilos E.M. Nicholis, 52, address unknown; Donald Evans Gilbreth, 50, of Florence, Ala.; David Leon Snoddy, 31, of Muscle Shoals, Ala.
Also, Robert Chapman Dickerson, 34, of Bear, Del.; Robert M. Cappiello, 28, of West Palm Beach, Fla.; Allen Ponder, 30, of Miami; Ronald Ferguson, 33, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; David Ferguson, 35, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Melody Redding Allen, 27, of Fort McCoy, Fla.; Maurice Lester Howard, 32, of Florence, Ala.; and William Robert Bryan, 45, of St. Joseph, Tenn.
Caraballo-Lujan, Henry Edsel Holmes and Rolando Zaldivar face prosecution for operating a continuing criminal enterprise under the so-called ″drug kingpin″ statute, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without parole.