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Guilty Verdict after Sealed Trial of Man Charged With 5 Kilos of Coke, Co-Defendant 86 Months

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 5 –  Three men were charged with a conspiracy to distribute five kilos of cocaine, and import the drugs from Colombia to Puerto Rico. One was Vincente Estevez.

   On January 20, 2022 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge John G. Koeltl held a status conference. Inner City Press covered it.

  Judge Koeltl set a hearing on motions for May 20, and the trial for July 25, to avoid a time in August he will be out.

On July 27, Inner City Press went to cover the trial. At defense table was Estevez and two defense counsel.

Quickly there were a sidebar, then it was announced that the courtroom would be closed, but audio made available - ironically in the same courtroom where the partially sealed trial of Josh Schulte was recently held. It went like this:

Witness works for DEA Caribbean. He's from Colombia. He is undercover in drug trafficking and money laundering cases.

AUSA: Do you surreptitiously record conversations?

Agent Pedro Gonzalez: Yes. I infiltrate. In this case we 1st heard from Cartagena, Colombia. We had 3 undercovers on the team.

 AUSA: Gov Exhibit 103. (Neither Inner City Press nor any other member of the media or public can see)

Now with witness off the stand, and jury gone, still the lawyers' argument is shifted to the "robing room" and the courtroom locked.

On July 28, Agent Gonzalez' testimony continued, with dramatic readings and an explanation of proof of life. Inner City Press live tweeted, here:

OK - Back on Drug Enforcement Administration criminal case with sealed courtroom

 AUSA is on direct examination of DEA agent Pedro Gonzalez, playing undercover videos showing - to jury but not Press or public - UC2 seated at right, they play-act transcript:

AUSA: You said, You have to be vetted, buddy. What did you mean?

Gonzalez: That they won't let you into the lab without checking you out. This lab was making 7000 kilos of cocaine.

AUSA: When you said "Italian league," what did you mean? Gonzalez: Major cartel. Camejo had contacts in Spain, too. AUSA: 508t, page 13.

 AUSA: How were they going to see if all the money was paid? Agent Gonzalez: They were going to weight it.

AUSA: 508t, page 27. You read UC1 and UC2, I'll do Camejo. UC2: I'm giving it to you for 22, bro. I'm dropping my pants.

UC1: It's 33 here

Camejo: Not so much

 Camejo: We're talking about me having 5 or 6 million dollars put together. I want 300. UC2: Get the money and we'll get it for you. AUSA: What's the topic here?

Agent Gonzalez: Pricing and how many kilos. 

AUSA: What is this photo?

Agent Gonzalez: It's a proof of life, to show that we had the (sham) cocaine, we took a photo with El Heraldo newspaper from Cartajena, Colombia, on Sept 21, 2020. And here's a video of the cocaine. AUSA: 602a. [yet more video we can't see]

On August 1, the cooperating witness on the stand in prison yellow identified photos of Camejo, Ingrid and others. Camejo, he said he met which selling Quaker State lubricants.

On August 4 this: "the jury returned a guilty verdict today against VICENTE ESTEVES, a/k/a “El Bori,” on one count of conspiracy to traffic cocaine, as charged in a Superseding Indictment.  ESTEVES is scheduled to be sentenced on November 17, 2022, by U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl, who presided over the eight-day trial.  ESTEVES, 49, was convicted on one count of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine, which carries a mandatory minimum prison term of ten years and a maximum prison term of life." 

And, "Sentencing set for 11/17/2022 at 04:30 PM before Judge John G. Koeltl."

But before then, on October 5, co-defendant Heiver Ruiz-Patozano was sentenced. Inner City Press was there. His Federal Defender wanted 36 months, citing the safety valve. The AUSA asked for 135 months. Judge Koeltl arrived at 86 months, noting that the defendant will probably be deported after that. There were a dozen supporters in the gallery.

The case is US v. Camejo et al., 20-cr-686 (Koeltl)  


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