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Two Herndon Men Among 28 Arrested in Connection With Honduran Cocaine Ring

Group allegedly smuggled cocaine into Northern Virginia, wired money to South America

A Vienna man allegedly acted as a leader of a cocaine ring that smuggled the drug into Northern Virginia and distributed it across the East Coast, which wired more than $1 million back to suppliers in Honduras over several years.

Twenty-eight people, including two from Herndon, were charged with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine in connection with the case, officials from the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigations announced Wednesday.

The charge carries a minimum mandatory of five years in prison and a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, U.S. Attorney's office spokesman Peter Carr said.

Melcy Yalexsy Guevara-Barrera, aka "Pedro" or "Primo," 35, of Vienna, was named in the case as one of four alleged leaders. Genis Jhesson Amaya-Pena, 25, also of Vienna, was named in the case as someone who helped distribute the drugs.

According to case documents, those charged—largely Honduran immigrants who have lived in Northern Virginia for the past seven years—hired couriers to smuggle cocaine to the U.S., usually through wooden shoes or picture frames. Couriers carried luggage to conceal the items, such as food, clothing and Honduras-related trinkets, that would blend in with the contraband cargo, according to case documents.

Once in the country, the leaders of the ring would distribute the drug across Northern Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts and North Carolina; often, packages would be handed off between several couriers before reaching street-level dealers and sellers, according to the documents.

Each shoe typically contained 1.5 ounces of cocaine; frames could hold up to three. Agents have collected more than five kilograms of suspected cocaine, according to the documents.

The ring was first discovered in a search of one leader's home in August 2011. Officials, including those from the Fairfax County Police Department, went on to conduct a number of searches and controlled purchases from leaders, including Barrera. Some of the sales occurred at private homes, while others happened across the county. Informants told the agents handoffs or sales often occured at a particular Jiffy Lube; it's exact location was not included in case doccuments.

For the past six years, some members of the conspiracy, employed at the Eden Center in Falls Church, have received cocaine to sell at the shopping plaza. In August, officers with the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force raided the Eden Center in Falls Church looking for illegal gambling machines. Fourteen of the 19 people charged in that investigation were not convicted.

Agents traced the ring to Honduras in part through wire taps on six cell phones, including two of Barrera's, since February.

Officials are still monitoring some of those phones as part of the ongoing investigation.

Information discovered during the investigation also revealed possible  distribution of crack cocaine, money laundering and various firearm offenses.

Carr said there are no additional charges related to those offenses at this time. The defendants have yet to be indicted, which a grand jury must do for the case to go to trial, Carr said.

They will remain in custody pending their preliminary and detention hearings next week, scheduled for either Monday or Tuesday, Carr said.

HerndonGal May 11, 2012 at 08:20 AM
In the story, the two men from Herndon were referred to as immigrants. Are you reporting that these two men were LEGAL immigrants, or was that a liberal thing to leave off the ILLEGAL?
Don Joy May 11, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Good point, HerndonGal. Illegal aliens cannot be legitimately considered immigrants. I'd be interested to learn the names of all of those arrested.
Don Joy May 11, 2012 at 01:26 PM
This link/story has all the names: http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/05/10/authorities-disrupt-major-cocaine-rafficking-ring-28-arrested-in-alleged-honduran-based-operation/
Leslie Perales Loges (Editor) May 11, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Immigrants is the term that was used by the US Attorney's office in the information they gave us. This is the direct quote from them: “Through creativity and coordination, this tight network of Honduran immigrants allegedly distributed vast amounts of cocaine throughout Northern Virginia and across the mid-Atlantic,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Thanks to close partnerships among law enforcement, we were able to put together the case that led to today’s charges.”
Leslie Perales Loges (Editor) May 11, 2012 at 07:25 PM
I'm waiting on a response to see if the US Attorneys office has that information and if it's available to us.
Ann H Csonka May 11, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Well, if it is determined that they are illegally present and participating in major criminal activities, that's what 287(g) is for -- to ensure that they are deported. Good riddance.

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