A three-year investigation has led to charges against a dozen individuals allegedly involved in trafficking cocaine and heroin between Panama and the U.S. Named in the indictments are a number of Delaweans, including Newark-area residents Kelvin Cook (a.k.a. “C,” “Cesar”), 33; and Dynisha J. Revel, 22.
The charges are the result of a long-running investigation involving both federal and local law enforcement officials in the United States and Panama. The defendants face a maximum term of life imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum term of ten years in prison.
The indictment alleges that the smuggling effort took place between Sept. 2008 until June 15 of this year and involved recruiting primarily female couriers to travel to Panama and smuggle multiple kilograms of heroin and cocaine from Panama to the United States.
Once in Panama, the couriers met with Panama-based contacts. Most of the couriers smuggled the drugs in small compartments sewn into Lycra shorts in an effort to avoid detection.
After a number of couriers were arrested, the organization began concealing the drugs within hair weaves and wigs. Once the couriers received the drugs they traveled by bus or airplane to Mexico, where they ultimately crossed or attempted to cross the United States border in Texas border towns such as Laredo, McAllen, and Brownsville, the indictment and court records indicated.
So far, 19 couriers have been identified as working for the organization. Ten of those couriers were arrested in the United States, while another nine are in Panamanian custody.
The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations, and the Wilmington Police Department. Also providing assistance were the Cecil County Drug Task Force, Maryland State Police and the Elkton Police Department.
Others indicted were:
- Efrain Dixon (a.k.a. “Pepe”), age 31, Colon, Panama;
- Ronaldo Edmund (a.k.a. “Nondi” or “Ninety”), age 36, Wilmington, Del.
- Julio Archer (a.k.a. “Ace”), age 39, Philadelphia.
- Benjamin Carpenter (a.k.a. “Benji”), age unknown, Colon, Panama;
- Roumik K. Banerjee (a.k.a. “RB”), age 24, Kennett Square, Pa.
- Mia Poteat (a.k.a. “Peanut”), age 32, New Castle, Del.
- Tina Simmons, age 23, Wilmington, Del.
- Sharon Butera, age 51, Elkton.
- Raabia H. Munjir, age 27, Lansdowne, Pa.
- Tessa Kay Snyder, age 46, North East, Md.