More than two dozen people from Maryland and Virginia have been arrested for their roles in a Northern Virginia-based drug ring in which they allegedly trafficked cocaine from Honduras into the United States, officials say.
According to FBI and U.S. Attorney's officials, the members of the ring have been allegedly coordinating with sources in the Central American nation since May 2006 to pay couriers to fly the drugs from Honduras to the U.S. on a regular basis. The couriers would conceal the cocaine inside legal items, such as clothing, food and souvenirs.
In total, 28 people from all over Maryland and Virginia were arrested.
The goal of the conspirators, officials say, was to hide the cocaine in items that were so innocuous that it would blend in with the other cargo the couriers were carrying. Shoes and wooden frames were included among the items, officials say.
Once the drugs got to the United States, authorities say members of the conspiracy would pick up the items and distribute the drugs to dealers in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and Massachusetts. They would then wire money from the sales back to Honduras.
"Through creativity and coordination, this tight network of Honduran immigrants allegedly distributed vast amounts of cocaine throughout Northern Virginia and across the mid-Atlantic," U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement.
The 28 people arrested include:Hector Mauricio Amaya, 36, Falls Church Genis Jhesson Amaya-Pena, 25, Vienna Marvin Eduardo Escoar barrios, 37, West Falls Church Wilson Reniery Guevara, 34, Manassas Joel Lopez, 41, Springfield Annelo Argueta Reyes, 35, Falls Church Mario Noel Medina-Aguilar, 28, Falls Church Julio Giovanni Nolaso, 18, Falls Church Concepcion Benitez-Pineda, 38, Arlington Mario Benitez-Pineda, 42, Falls Church Santos Efrain Carbajal Benites, 24, Arlington Angel Zelaya Lizama, 29, Falls Church Jose Delores Vanegas, 40, Arlington Isaias Abrego-Mancia, 38, Herndon Rudy Humberto Tabaro, 30, Lutherville Edwin Espana Moreles, 38, Riverdale Jose Lorenzo Saravia, 40, Manassas FNU LNU (aka Alex or Gordito), Falls Church Maria Florinda Benitez-Pineda, 26, Baltimore Jose Maria Benites-Pineda, 26, Baltimore Jose Enrique Funez, 40, Norfolk Martin Juarez-Lopez, 19, Falls Church Gloria Elena Olivia Castro, 25, Springfield Joaquin Avila-Rodriguez, 40, Herndon Lindor Delis Martinez-Guevara, 38, Falls Church Melcy Yalexsy Guevara-Barrera, 35, Vienna Samuel Benitez-Pineda, 34, Arlington Jose Fredy Delcid, 34, Falls Church