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Rico From Nicaragua For Packages of 11 Kilos of Heroin Gets 30 Months But No Obstruction

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Sept 11 – Armando Jose Jarquin Rico came from Nicaragua to The Bronx and sent more than half of his weekly $600 salary back to his family in Matagalpa. Then he agreed to accept packages for $500 each. He was arrested with 11 kilos of heroin.   On September 11 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Paul G. Gardephe held a sentencing proceeding. Inner City Press covered and live tweeted it:

Judge Gardephe rejects the US Attorney's request for two level upgrade for obstruction, and finds that he didn't know what the (drug) packages contained. Base level 34; with subtractions, down to 22. So the guideline is 41 to 51 months. 
Judge Gardephe: Any defense objection to calculations?

Sabrina Shroff: No.... Mr. Rico is entitled to a reduction under US v. Carti. And I do not know when Nicaragua will take its citizens back. So he'll have to wait to be deported.

AUSA Pellegrino: He should get 41-51 months, not time served. The drugs were worth $500,000 to $1 million, at a going rate of $50-$60,000 a kilo, for heroin. With respect to the Carti case, that involved pre-sentencing detention in the Dominican Republic.

Rico himself: I was not working in Nicaragua. To build a house there for my daughters, I came here. Not to abandon them, but to support them. But this has been the worse experience, being on lock-down, no visits... This place has been horrible, constant conflict

Judge Gardephe: Rico met his co-conspirator at the juice bar where he worked. He was talked into accepting packages at his home, $500 per package. He thought it was marijuana, then cocaine. But it was heroin. In 2018 board protection found suspicious packages

Judge Gardephe: Law enforcement put tracking devices in the package then put them back in the mail. Rico was arrested. In his apartment, 2 bags with 11 kilos of heroin.

Judge Gardephe: Rico is 30. He was born in Matagalpa in northern Nicaragua. There was a guerrilla movement in the area [Contras? quienes?] He came to the US in 2015 on a visitors visa. He overstayed, illegally.

Judge Gardephe: In Nicaragua, he went to university and studied marketing and publicity. But there was little work. He came to the US to support his family. He worked at a juice bar in The Bronx, full time. He made $600 a week, of which he sent $350 to Nicaragua

 Judge Gardephe: In the MCC he worked in food service and got a strong letter of support. He has been detained 2 years, taken a lot of courses. He fell ill in April 2020 with symptoms consistent with Coronavirus. Probation recommends 60 months, incorrect calculus

Judge Gardephe: I am imposing a sentence of 30 months. [That is, six more months then immigration detention pending deportation to Nicaragua.] If not, 3 years of Supervised release.   

The decisions on responsibility / role in the conspiracy, and rejecting the US position on obstruction, are important.

The case is USA v. Rico, 18-cr-661 (Gardephe)


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