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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 8/16/2005 6:26:14 PM EDT
August 22, 2005

Million-dollar cocaine bust
They were in Colombia to stop drug trafficking. Instead, the Army says the soldiers smuggled cocaine into the U.S. and sold it on the streets.

By Joseph R. Chenelly
Times staff writer

Three staff sergeants charged with keeping illegal drugs out of the United States were actually using military aircraft to smuggle hundreds of pounds of cocaine from Colombia into the states, the Army said.

The staff sergeants, all assigned to the 204th Military Intelligence Battalion, face charges that include importing and distributing about 200 pounds of cocaine over a two-year period.

A fourth soldier, Spc. Francisco Rosa, 25, pleaded guilty Aug. 10 to several related charges.

Still awaiting courts-martial are Staff Sgts. Daniel Rosas, 23; Victor J. Portales, 24; and Kelvin G. Irizarry-Melendez, 26.

An attorney for the suspect at the center of the case, however, said the soldiers were caught up in an “overzealous prosecution.”

Capt. Steven Slawinski, who is representing Staff Sgt. Rosas, told Army Times in a phone interview Aug. 11 that he has filed a motion to have charges dismissed that he believes are redundant.

The Army alleges the soldiers conspired to use U.S. military aircraft to smuggle cocaine from Apia air base in central Colombia to Biggs Army Airfield at Fort Bliss, Texas.

They then, according to charges filed against the soldiers, sold the cocaine in Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

In major metropolitan areas, as of 2001, the price of a kilogram — 2.2 pounds — of cocaine ranged from $13,000 to $25,000, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Web site. At that rate, the more than 90 kilograms the soldiers are accused of moving could have a street value of $1 million to $2 million.

The soldiers were part of a U.S. force serving mainly in advisory, intelligence and support roles for Colombian troops in a jungle fighting unit known as Joint Task Force Omega. They are in place to battle drug trafficking and associated violence. The number of American troops in Colombia is legally limited to 800, but officials say the actual number is lower than that.

The staff sergeants are cryptologic linguists, typically responsible for exploiting foreign communications to collect intelligence.

Spc. Rosa is a signals intelligence analyst. An E-4 in that job may be called upon to scan intercepted messages to isolate valid message traffic.

The soldiers were charged with their alleged crimes March 30. Each was referred for court-martial after going through an Article 32 hearing in May or June.

A Fort Bliss public affairs spokeswoman said Aug. 10 that additional arrests are not expected.

Six other individuals, all civilians, are vaguely identified and accused in the soldiers’ charge sheets of conspiring to smuggle and distribute cocaine. The DEA would have jurisdiction over civilians in this case. Representatives for the DEA in El Paso, Texas, and Washington, D.C., said they were not aware of the identities of the civilians and were unable to comment.

Of the four soldiers, Staff Sgt. Rosas faces by far the longest list of charges. The dates of each specification are up to a year earlier than those for the other three.

Rosas is charged with conspiracy in a charge that says he began planning the drug operation in March 2003 and used his own money to fund it.

The Army filed 17 specifications of illegally importing and/or distributing cocaine against him. Those charges include smuggling more than 178 pounds of cocaine between April 2003 and March 2005. Rosas is accused of distributing the drugs in Beaumont, Texas; Sonora, Texas; Orlando, Fla.; Lake Charles, La.; and at Fort Bliss. The size of drug sales allegedly ranged from individual vials at Fort Bliss to larger quantities in the cities. He also allegedly carried nearly $250,000 dollars in cash to Colombia over the two years to purchase the narcotics.

Additionally, Rosas was charged with two counts of wrongfully possessing a firearm to aid in committing a felony.

Slawinski, however, said his client was a model soldier, noting that he made staff sergeant in less than five years.

Rosas’ civilian attorney, Christopher Russell, said some people involved in the case perceive his client as the ringleader. Russell said that is an unfair and incorrect view. He said the government charged Rosas with an “unreasonable multitude of counts.” He said political considerations may be to blame.

Russell and Slawinski have filed a motion to have some charges dismissed that they believe are redundant.

Portales was charged with conspiring with Rosas, Irizarry-Melendez and an individual identified only as “Angel Guiterriez.” Portales faces three specifications of importing, possessing and distributing cocaine. The first count claims he smuggled 20 kilograms of cocaine in the summer of 2004. The second and third say he brought 16 kilos into Fort Bliss in October 2004 and 15 kilos in early 2005.

Portales faces a “violating good order and discipline” charge as well for allegedly transporting about $48,000 with Irizarry-Melendez from Fort Bliss to Colombia between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31, 2004, with the intent to purchase cocaine.

Irizarry-Melendez was charged with conspiring with Portales, Rosas and Angel Guiterriez to illegally import and distribute 20 kilograms of cocaine between Aug. 1, 2004, and March 28. He allegedly contributed $2,000 of his own money to fund the smuggling.

He also faces two charges of importing and distributing illegal narcotics. He allegedly moved 16 kilograms of cocaine in October 2004 and 15 more kilos this past March.

Portales’ military defense counsel could not be reached by press time. Irizarry-Melendez’s military and civilian attorneys declined to comment on their client’s case.

Spc. Rosa, who already pleaded guilty to most charges, was initially brought into the alleged drug ring by Staff Sgt. Rosas, according to John P. Galligan, Rosa’s lawyer.

The specialist was originally accused of conspiring with Rosas and two people identified only as “Felix” and “Gustavo” to distribute cocaine in San Antonio, Orlando and Fort Bliss. Authorities said that occurred between May 1, 2004, and Jan. 31 of this year. He was also charged with using cocaine and distributing the drug in October 2004 in Texas, as well as making a false official statement to a DEA agent.

If Rosa had been convicted on all charges, he could have been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison. But, on Aug. 10, he struck a deal with the prosecution before his general court-martial at Fort Bliss. In exchange for guilty pleas on most of the charges and assistance in further investigations and trials, prosecutors guaranteed Rosa would face no more than five years of confinement and a dishonorable discharge.

Rosa waived his right to trial by jury and allowed the military judge, Lt. Col. Jeffery Nance, to decide his fate.

Rosa’s mother and fiancée traveled from Puerto Rico to testify on his behalf.

According to Galligan, one of Rosa’s former commanders testified Rosa had rehabilitative potential. Additionally, Rosa made an unsworn statement in the sentencing phase, saying he regretted his role.

The conspiracy charge was dropped and Rosa pleaded guilty to use and distribution. Without knowing what deal the two sides had already agreed to, the judge issued a recommended sentence of five years in lockup and a bad conduct discharge. The fact that Nance handed the same sentence as the plea deal means Rosa is no longer committed to helping prosecutors and investigators, according to Slawinski, the military defense counsel for Staff Sgt. Rosas.

But Galligan said his client will seek clemency from further prosecution so that he can help in the cases against the other soldiers. Galligan also said he hopes the convening authority, the post commanding general, will take Rosa’s cooperation into account when finalizing the sentence, the judge’s recommended sentence can be lessened by the convening authority. Galligan said Rosa would like to remain on active duty after he serves his sentence.

Galligan told Army Times on Aug. 12 that Rosa had no part in planning the alleged smuggling and only acted as a “mule,” a slang term commonly used to describe someone who is carrying drugs for someone else.

Colombia’s ambassador to the United States was unavailable for comment, according to an embassy spokeswoman in Washington, D.C., and the Ministry of Defense in Bogota refused to discuss the case.

The three soldiers awaiting their trials are being held in solitary confinement at Otero County Prison Facility in Chaparral, N.M., Slawinski said.

Rosas is scheduled to be tried during the week of Sept. 26, Slawinski said, but the attorney added that discovery motions remain unresolved and may delay that date.

Courts-martial are slated to begin in mid-September and early October for Irizarry-Melendez and Portales, respectively, according to the Fort Bliss public affairs office.

At press time, the same office refused to disclose the exact dates of the courts-martial, citing security concerns.

But two of the attorneys say they don’t have any such security concerns.

Link Posted: 8/16/2005 6:27:09 PM EDT
Fine American names those boys had.
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 6:39:35 PM EDT
America's finest?

Nope.

Link Posted: 8/16/2005 6:40:32 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 6:46:47 PM EDT
They along with the SF troops caught selling ammo to the Paramilitaries delt serious blows to the credibility of everyone on CD/CT missions in Colombia. The SF guys will hopefully end up in Gitmo, the Drugies deserve to get ass raped for 20-30 years
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:17:58 PM EDT

Originally Posted By MrClean4Hire:
Fine American names those boys had.



WTF does that have to do with anything?
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:19:50 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/16/2005 7:20:09 PM EDT by adair_usmc]

Originally Posted By FortyFiveAutomatic:

Originally Posted By MrClean4Hire:
Fine American names those boys had.



WTF does that have to do with anything?



sar·casm Audio pronunciation of "sarcasm" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (särkzm)
n.

1. A cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound.
2. A form of wit that is marked by the use of sarcastic language and is intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule.
3. The use of sarcasm. See Synonyms at wit1.



Spc. Francisco Rosa, 25
Staff Sgts. Daniel Rosas, 23; Victor J. Portales, 24



Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:23:13 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/16/2005 7:25:00 PM EDT by sysop]
Ummm, was this a typo?


August 22, 2005

Million-dollar cocaine bust
They were in Colombia to stop drug trafficking. Instead, the Army says the soldiers smuggled cocaine into the U.S. and sold it on the streets.

By Joseph R. Chenelly
Times staff writer



or is Joseph R. Chenelly a psychic?

Do you have a link to this story?
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:28:37 PM EDT

Originally Posted By adair_usmc:

Originally Posted By FortyFiveAutomatic:

Originally Posted By MrClean4Hire:
Fine American names those boys had.



WTF does that have to do with anything?



sar·casm Audio pronunciation of "sarcasm" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (särkzm)
n.

1. A cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound.
2. A form of wit that is marked by the use of sarcastic language and is intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule.
3. The use of sarcasm. See Synonyms at wit1.



Spc. Francisco Rosa, 25
Staff Sgts. Daniel Rosas, 23; Victor J. Portales, 24






Yeah, I got the sarcasm. Maybe someone forgot that perhaps the Army found it most prudent to employ Hispanic individuals for intel responsibilities in South America.
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:35:16 PM EDT

Originally Posted By MrClean4Hire:
Fine American names those boys had.



wow.. guess since my last name is not " a fine american name " I wasted more then a couple of yrs of my life serving in my beloved Marine Corps ?

read the story... i really doubt many " smiths " and "hendersons " could do that job as easliy as they could..

now... if they are found guilty fuck em' fine american name or not.
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:36:31 PM EDT

Originally Posted By cluster:

Originally Posted By MrClean4Hire:
Fine American names those boys had.



wow.. guess since my last name is not " a fine american name " I wasted more then a couple of yrs of my life serving in my beloved Marine Corps ?

read the story... i really doubt many " smiths " and "hendersons " could do that job as easliy as they could..

now... if they are found guilty fuck em' fine american name or not.



I just conected the dots.
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:37:47 PM EDT

Originally Posted By cluster:

Originally Posted By MrClean4Hire:
Fine American names those boys had.



wow.. guess since my last name is not " a fine american name " I wasted more then a couple of yrs of my life serving in my beloved Marine Corps ?

read the story... i really doubt many " smiths " and "hendersons " could do that job as easliy as they could..

now... if they are found guilty fuck em' fine american name or not.



That's exactly what I'm saying. The reason they weren't smiths and hendersons is because smiths and hendersons don't speak Spanish as well as rosas and portales's and melendez's and thus would be the inferior choice for intel missions in columbia. name has jack shit to do with it.
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:42:03 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/16/2005 7:43:24 PM EDT by jkstexas2001]

Originally Posted By FortyFiveAutomatic:

Originally Posted By adair_usmc:

Originally Posted By FortyFiveAutomatic:

Originally Posted By MrClean4Hire:
Fine American names those boys had.



WTF does that have to do with anything?



sar·casm Audio pronunciation of "sarcasm" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (särkzm)
n.

1. A cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound.
2. A form of wit that is marked by the use of sarcastic language and is intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule.
3. The use of sarcasm. See Synonyms at wit1.



Spc. Francisco Rosa, 25
Staff Sgts. Daniel Rosas, 23; Victor J. Portales, 24






Yeah, I got the sarcasm. Maybe someone forgot that perhaps the Army found it most prudent to employ Hispanic individuals for intel responsibilities in South America.



You are damn straight, Mr FortyFiveAutomatic. +1
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:47:45 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/16/2005 7:49:47 PM EDT by sysop]

Originally Posted By sysop:
Ummm, was this a typo?


August 22, 2005

Million-dollar cocaine bust
They were in Colombia to stop drug trafficking. Instead, the Army says the soldiers smuggled cocaine into the U.S. and sold it on the streets.

By Joseph R. Chenelly
Times staff writer



or is Joseph R. Chenelly a psychic?

Do you have a link to this story?



Ummm, Hello?

I realize everyone is all upset about the name thingy but did you see this?


August 22, 2005

Million-dollar cocaine bust
They were in Colombia to stop drug trafficking. Instead, the Army says the soldiers smuggled cocaine into the U.S. and sold it on the streets.



It's like August 16th and stuff. Oh and it's still 2005 and stuff............

So this story won't break for another six days.

Like I said does the original poster have a link to the story?

On the bright side, it's probably not a dupe.
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:51:01 PM EDT

Originally Posted By sysop:
Ummm, Hello?

I realize everyone is all upset about the name thingy but did you see this?




It's a typo. The date is supposed to be Aug 12.
Link
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:53:13 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/16/2005 7:55:31 PM EDT by mobius]
it was in this weeks ARMY TIMES, which came yesterday for me.......

www.armytimes.com/

Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:53:29 PM EDT
Further evidence that we lost the war on drugs a long time ago.
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:54:21 PM EDT
My sincere apologies if I pissed off an arfcom brother in this thread.
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:56:25 PM EDT
And they were MI (98B/98G, I think?)

That MOS requires a top-secret clearance IIRC
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 7:57:44 PM EDT

Originally Posted By FortyFiveAutomatic:

Originally Posted By sysop:
Ummm, Hello?

I realize everyone is all upset about the name thingy but did you see this?




It's a typo. The date is supposed to be Aug 12.
Link



Thank you.

Now everyone can get on with the name argument thingy comfortable in knowing that I will not interrupt.
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 8:02:01 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/16/2005 8:04:10 PM EDT by mobius]


the 22 aug date, is the weekly paper date.....which usually runs a week ahead of when it actually is delivered.
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 8:04:18 PM EDT

Originally Posted By MrClean4Hire:
My sincere apologies if I pissed off an arfcom brother in this thread.



No biggie

Carry on.
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 8:08:33 PM EDT

Originally Posted By TheFreepster:
Further evidence that we lost the war on drugs a long time ago.



There never was a War on Drugs at a level that would have any real impact. About 20 to 30% of the world economy depends on the Illegal Drug Trade. Entire 3rd world nation economies rely on the income from production or trafficing of illegal drugs.

If they don't produce oil, they produce drugs.
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