handed down 22 Feb 21 in a drug operation that had smuggled shipments of
methamphetamine and heroin from Mexico through the Port of Tampa in 2018 and
According to court documents, federal agents
identified seven shipments smuggled in aboard a containership named Leticia
operating between Altamira, Mexico and the Port of Tampa and then trucked to
Atlanta, Georgia where they were discovered in a private residence along with
guns and cash.
Yolanda Herrera, age 43 of Georgia pleaded guilty, sentenced 22 years
age 43 of Georgia was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison after pleading
guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute
methamphetamine and heroin. According to prosecutors, she had been hired and
paid to coordinate, supervise, and organize the transportation of narcotics
sent from Mexico to Tampa, and deliver them to Georgia. Two co-conspirators,
Nestor Vazquez-Morales and Adan Martinez-Onofre, had previously between
sentenced to jail for their roles.
US Customs discovered smuggling operations in March 2019 at Port of
operation was discovered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at
the Port of Tampa in March 2019.
suspicious while inspecting a container being offloaded from the Leticia.
According to the ship’s manifest, it contained stone blocks, typically used for
the building of stone fountains. Agents from Homeland Security Investigations
imaged the blocks and later broke the blocks uncovering 14 large packages that
had been shrink-wrapped with black carbon paper, which contained more than 50
kilograms of methamphetamine and 3 kilograms of heroin.
The agents later
followed to Atlanta a truck that had picked up the blocks at the port and
observed the blocks being offloaded from the truck into a private home.
Searching the residence agents seized approximately two kilograms of heroin,
three firearms, $12,725 in U.S. currency, and one stone block that was
identical to the blocks discovered in the Port of Tampa.
Herrera found masterminding the smuggling operations
obtained from the individuals showed that Herrera, who flew from Tampa to
Atlanta after the shipment arrived in Tampa, was actively planning and
coordinating the pickup of the narcotics from the port to their destination.
Same ship involved in six prior shipments
investigation showed six prior shipments aboard the same ship between October
2018 and March 2019.