Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Raymond Donovan, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Special Operations Division, announced today that Efrain Antonio Campo Flores (“Campo Flores”) and Franqui Francisco Flores De Freitas (“Flores De Freitas”) were each sentenced to 216 months in prison for conspiring to import cocaine into the United States. A jury convicted Campo Flores and Flores De Freitas on November 18, 2016, following a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty, who imposed today’s sentences.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “In part to fund an election campaign for the first lady of Venezuela, Efrain Antonio Campo Flores and Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas devised a plan to work with the FARC terrorist organization to send literally tons of cocaine to the United States. At their trial last November, a unanimous jury saw their plot for what it was – a massive drug distribution conspiracy. With today’s sentencing, for participating in this brazen cocaine trafficking scheme, they will spend many years in an American prison.”
“The sentencing of Campo-Flores and Flores-de Freitas serves as a strong reminder that anyone choosing to traffic drugs will be relentlessly pursued by the DEA and prosecuted for their involvement in such activities,” said DEA Special Operations Division Special Agent-in-Charge Raymond Donovan. “Campo-Flores and Flores-de Freitas were involved in illegal drug trafficking practices that assisted in transporting drugs to the doorstep of thousands of people in the United States, contributing to their addictions and overdoses on illegal substances.”
According to the evidence presented at trial and in connection with sentencing proceedings:
Beginning in August 2015, Campo Flores and Flores De Freitas worked with others in Venezuela, Mexico, Honduras, and elsewhere – including at least one member of Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (“FARC”), a designated foreign terrorist organization – in an effort to dispatch large loads of cocaine via private aircraft from premises controlled by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro at Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetia, Venezuela. The defendants’ aunt, Cilia Flores, is the first lady of Venezuela, and during the investigation, Campo Flores and Flores De Freitas told individuals acting at the direction of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) that they intended to use part of the proceeds of their drug trafficking to fund her December 2015 campaign for a position in the Venezuelan National Assembly. Electronic communications seized from the defendants’ phones also demonstrated, among other things, that Campo Flores and Flores De Freitas had engaged in a scheme to solicit bribes from debtors of Venezuela’s state-run oil and natural gas company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (“PDVSA”), in exchange for promises that a cousin, Carlos Erik Malpica-Flores, would cause PDVSA to approve and make payments on certain debts. Maduro, Malpica-Flores, and other current and former senior Venezuelan officials have been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury pursuant to Executive Order (“E.O.”) 13692, which authorizes sanctions against officials of the Government of Venezuela and others undermining democracy there.
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In addition to the prison terms, Campo Flores, 31, and Flores De Freitas, 33, was each ordered to pay a fine of $50,000.
Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s Special Operations Division, Bilateral Investigations Unit, and New York Strike Force. Mr. Kim also thanked the DEA’s Port-au-Prince Country Office, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s National Targeting Center, DEA’s Airwing, the Government of the Republic of Haiti and the Haitian National Police, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for their assistance.
This government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emil J. Bove III and Brendan F. Quigley are in charge of the prosecution.
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