Carmen Luise Rodriguez
On September 28, 2005, Carmen Luise Rodriguez, a Colombian national, was arrested in “Operation Pier Pressure," which was led by ICE in conjunction with the DEA, FBI and the Waterfront Commission, with assistance provided by U.S. Customs and Border Control, and was coordinated by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
According to the indictments, complaints, and a detention memorandum filed by the government, the investigation began in December 2000, when law enforcement learned that Jose Escobar was supervising an international narcotics operation from the Federal Correctional Center in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, where he is serving a 30-year sentence for his role in the 1995 importation of 180 kilograms of cocaine into Port Newark, New Jersey. In August 2001, as a result of leads developed in the investigation, ICE, DEA, and the New York/New Jersey Port Authority Police arrested five individuals and seized approximately 78 kilograms of cocaine from a container at Howland Hook. The five defendants were subsequently convicted of felony narcotics distribution charges in the Eastern District of New York. Following additional advances in the investigation, during the next two years, federal agents and inspectors seized another 270 kilograms of cocaine hidden in containerized shipments at Howland Hook.
In November 2003, based in large part on the information agents learned from Escobar's prison calls, the government obtained court authorization to intercept the telephone conversations of a trusted Escobar associate. Those intercepts, as well as other investigative techniques, revealed that the Escobar organization was expecting another cocaine shipment at Howland Hook in early December 2003. Agents established surveillance and on December 5, 2003, seized an additional 157 kilograms of cocaine at Howland Hook, with a street value of approximately $3.925 million USD. Six individuals were arrested as they loaded the cocaine into a minivan.
In October 2004, Escobar's son, Jose M. Escobar, Jr., and Julio Gongora traveled to San Francisco to meet with Rodriguez and her contacts at the port to discuss moving the drug-smuggling operation to the West Coast. Upon his return, Escobar, Jr. met with his father at Allenwood and reported that "the game cannot be done through the piers" because the ports in San Francisco and Oakland were under such tight security that cocaine could not be successfully imported there. Escobar, Jr. then told his father that based on what "the supervisor at the pier" told him "the terminal is under 24-hour surveillance by the Feds."
Each of the defendants were charged with conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States and faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment and a maximum sentence of life, lifetime supervised release, and a fine of $4 million USD. Jose Escobar Orejuela, Grecia Escobar, Joseph Escobar, Jr., Cenide Tovar, and Manuel Llanos Escobar were also charged with money laundering. If convicted, each faced a maximum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $500,000 USD. (1)
On June 17, 2008, Rodriguez plead guilty to conspiracy to import narcotics into the U.S. and was sentenced to 210 months in Federal prison and ordered to pay a fine of $500,000 USD.
On May 21, 2010, Carmen Luise Rodriguez BOP Register Number 90762-038 was successfully treaty transferred* back to Colombia. (2)
*Colombia and the U.S. do not have prisoner treaty transfer in effect; Amicus secured an agreement with the U.S. DOJ to make this transfer possible.