NEWARK, N.J. – An Ecuadorian man today admitted his role in a conspiracy to import several kilograms of cocaine from Ecuador into the United States, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Jorge Giklin Arauz Velasquez, 45, of Ecuador, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden to one count of an indictment charging him with conspiracy to import five kilograms or more of cocaine into the United States.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From March 2018 through January 2019, Velasquez worked with members of a drug trafficking organization operating out of Ecuador to import cocaine from Ecuador throughout the United States. For several months, Velasquez discussed the possibility of importing kilogram quantities of cocaine into the United States into the New Jersey area. In November 2018, Velasquez told another individual that he could smuggle cocaine onto a flight leaving Ecuador and arriving in Florida.
In December 2018, Velasquez and another associate discussed that several kilograms of cocaine could be shipped on a plane leaving Guayaquil, Ecuador, and arriving in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The cocaine would be contained in luggage on the flight. Later, Velasquez sent a message containing the flight number where the cocaine shipment would be located, along with a description of the luggage tag for the luggage that would contain the cocaine. Law enforcement in Florida located the luggage from the identified flight, which contained approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine.
The count to which Velasquez pleaded guilty carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum penalty of life in prison, and a $10 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 10, 2021.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited specials agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark; Colombian National Police DIJIN-GESIN; the Ecuadorian National Police; Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Enforcement and Removal Operations, under the direction of Field Office Director John Tsoukaris; officers of the Newark Police Department, under the direction of Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose; and the New Jersey National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, under the direction of Col. Paul Rumberger, with the investigation. U.S. Attorney Carpenito also thanked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for their assistance with the case.
This case was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies dedicated to identifying and dismantling the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamie L. Hoxie of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.