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Tag: cocaine

New York Pharmacist Sent Cocaine in a Greeting Card To DEA Agent, Prosecutors Say

By Steve Neavling

A New York pharmacist is accused of sending powdered cocaine in a greeting card to a DEA agent after discovering his business was under investigation, the Justice Department said. 

The idea was to disrupt the investigation, but the plan failed. 

Dimitrios Lymberatos, 34, is charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice for seeking to “interfere with the investigation through intimidation,” acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss of the Southern District of New York said in a statement.

“Lymberatos’s misguided message was received loud and clear – and he now faces the possibility of a lengthy prison term for his potentially harmful attempt to obstruct law enforcement,” Strauss said. 

The DEA began investigating the pharmacy in November 2019 over discrepancies in a registration application, delaying his ability to receive authorization to dispense controlled substances.

Frustrated with the impact on his pharmacy, Lymberatos hired a private investigator to learn more about the DEA investigator. After discovering the agent’s home address, he sent her a greeting card with several packets of cocaine. 

When the agent received the card and found white powder inside, she alerted law enforcement and went to the hospital for a toxicology screening. 

Prosecutors say the motive was to create “fear” for the agent’s “physical safety, and to create trouble for the Investigator by causing her to come into possession of an illegal controlled substance.”

“One of our own diversion investigators was allegedly targeted simply for doing their job, and as such, Mr. Lymberatos’s alleged actions as a pharmacist and licensed professional were completely unconscionable,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donovan said. “Thankfully, due to the diligent work of our Tactical Diversion Squads, he will be brought to justice.” 

Operation to Root Out Corrupt Law Enforcement Leads to Arrest of DEA Officer

Johnny Jacob Domingue, former DEA task force officer.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former DEA task force officer in Louisiana who previously admitted stealing drugs and money while on the job found himself in federal court in another case in which he’s accused of distributing more than five kilograms of cocaine.

Johnny Jacob Domingue was arrested in McAllen, Texas, on Wednesday on allegations he negotiated the purchase and transport of cocaine this summer, the Justice Department announced.

The arrest was part of Operation Blue Shame, an ongoing sting designed to root out corrupt law enforcement officers. Homeland Security is leading the operation, with the help of local police, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and CBP’s air and marine units.

Domingue is accused of traveling from Louisiana to Edinburg, Texas, to pick up a vehicle loaded with cocaine stashed in a secret compartment and then distribute the drugs drugs, according to ICE.

Domingue faces 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine.

Operation Blue Shame has led to the arrests and prosecution of at least seven law enforcement officers and 20 individuals.

Sharp Rise in Illegal Drug Seizures As Cartels Adapt to Coronavirus Pandemic

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities are reporting a steep rise in the seizure of illegal drugs as cartels adopt to new tactics during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan.

Most notably, meth seizures along the border through August have more than doubled over all of fiscal year 2019. Marijuana and fentanyl seizures also are higher than last year.

Via CBP.

“Cartels are constantly finding new and innovative ways to smuggle not only illegal immigrants, but also drugs,” Morgan said, BorderReport.com reports. “We saw a precipitous drop in March but they changed their tactics and procedures quickly and are right back on top.”

After a sharp decline in drug trafficking amid the pandemic, drug traffickers are now focusing on deadly drugs that are easier to hide and more cost-effective to ship. Morgan pointed to the seizure in mid-August of 158 pounds of liquid meth that were concealed in three cases of bottled water.

Seizures of drugs such as meth, heroin and fentanyl rose 56% in August compared to July.

The increase in drug trafficking has translated to a surge in violence in Mexican border towns, Morgan said. Since the end of August, Tijuana has reported 1,339 homicides, many of them drug-related.

Pittsburgh Man Charged with Shooting ATF Agent During Raid of His Home

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Pittsburgh man accused of shooting an ATF agent during a raid at his home in June has been charged with assault on a federal employee and violating federal firearms laws.

Dion Williams, 44, was indicted by a federal grand jury after authorities say he shot the agent during a raid following a wiretap investigation into cocaine trafficking, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release Wednesday.

The agent was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

“My office has zero tolerance for assaults upon or violence directed against law enforcement officers. Violent drug trafficking felons like Dion Williams who brazenly use illegal firearms to shoot at law enforcement officers have no place in western Pennsylvania,” U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said. “We will continue to use all available resources to dismantle drug gangs and bring violent criminals to justice, and to protect the men and women of law enforcement who work tirelessly every day to keep us all safe.”

Williams and 11 others have been arrested and charged with possession and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The investigation is connected to a larger drug-trafficking probe involving the “11 Hunnit” street gang, Brady said.

“It’s essential that we keep law enforcement officers safe as they protect and serve the nation’s communities,” Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman said. “Assault on law enforcement officers undermines the rule of law and will not be tolerated. Anyone who fires at law enforcement threatens the safety of our community and will face serious legal consequences. I am thankful the injured ATF agent is recovering and appreciative of his service and dedication.”

Authorities Seize Nearly $700,000 in Cash Stowed Away by Border Patrol Agent Accused of Drug Trafficking, Prosecutors Say

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Authorities found more than $680,000 in the home, vehicle, and safe deposit box of a Border Patrol agent who has been charged with drug trafficking, federal court documents show.

Carlos Victor Passapera Pinott, 53, assigned to the Tucson Sector Ajo Border Patrol Station, has been charged with multiple counts of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.

Federal agents found $370,000 in at his house and vehicle and another $311,000 in a safe deposit box, Tucson.com reports.

Prosecutors say Passapera was caught loading two duffel bags full of drugs into a vehicle at an airport in Phoenix. The bags contained 21 kilograms of cocaine, one kilogram of heroin and one kilogram of fentanyl, plus some 350,000 pills believed to fentanyl, according to prosecutors.

If convicted, Passapera faces up to life in jail and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.

ATF Agent Shot During Raid of Pittsburgh Home; a Dozen Suspects Arrested

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

An ATF agent was shot and hospitalized early Tuesday during a raid in a Pittsburgh neighborhood following a wiretap investigation into drug dealing.

A dozen suspects connected to the house have been arrested, TribLive reports.

Medics treated the agent at the scene before he was taken to a hospital in stable condition, John Schmidt, acting special agent in charge of the ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division, said.

“We train for these types of situations and that training paid off today,” Schmidt said. “In our efforts to conduct operations as safely as possible, we have medics on our Special Response Teams for instances just like today — our highly trained medics were able to quickly provide medical care to our special agent and helped insure the best outcome possible in this instance.”

The homeowner, Dion Williams, 44 was charged with possession and conspiracy to distribute at last 5 kilograms of cocaine since November. The 11 others who were arrested were charged and face between 10 years and life in prison.

The investigation is connected to a larger drug-trafficking probe involving the “11 Hunnit” street gang, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said.

“For too long, the ’11 Hunnit’ gang has terrorized the law-abiding residents of the City of Pittsburgh and the Hill District,” Brady said. “Through the four indictments of 22 members and associates of ’11 Hunnit,’ we have effectively dismantled this gang and its grip on our city.”

DEA Agent Who Protected Violent Puerto Rican Drug Cartel Pleads Guilty

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former police officer accused of joining the DEA so he could protect a violent Puerto Rican drug cartel has pleaded guilty.

Fernando Gomez, who infiltrated the DEA and was working in the Chicago field office, was arrested in December and charged with racketeering conspiracy for his alleged decade-long affiliation with the Organizacion de Narcotraficantes Unidos. The gang, which imported vast shipments of cocaine into the U.S., was accused in the indictment of participating in at least eight drug-related killings in New York and Puerto Rico and smuggling thousands of kilograms of cocaine.

Gomez is accused of helping the gang beginning in 2006 when he was a detective with the city of Evanston.

Under a plea deal, the 42-year-old former U.S. Marine faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 21 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, The Associated Press reports.

Feds Seize a Record 16.5 Tons of Cocaine Worth $1B+ in Philadelphia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities seized more than $1 billion worth of cocaine at the Philadelphia Port, calling it the largest coke bust in the history of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the third largest in the U.S.

The DEA bust netted 16.5 tons of cocaine from seven shipping containers found in a cargo ship docked at the Packer Marine Terminal, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Federal authorities arrested two members of the crew, Ivan Durasevic and Fonofaavae Tiasag.
Authorities said the ship appears to have originated from Chile and traveled to Peru, Columbia and Panama.

“This amount of cocaine could kill millions – MILLIONS – of people,” Philadelphia-based U.S. Attorney William McSwain said on Twitter, “My Office is committed to keeping our borders secure and streets safe from deadly narcotics.”