Crime

Couple arrested in heroin-smuggling network on commercial flights

Drugs found by members of the Miami Dade Police Department special response team at several houses during a heroin related drug bust operation in this file photo from December 15, 2016.
Drugs found by members of the Miami Dade Police Department special response team at several houses during a heroin related drug bust operation in this file photo from December 15, 2016. File / 2016

Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested a Miami couple after discovering a narcotics smuggling network that transported heroin from Ecuador on commercial flights to Miami, according to federal court records.

The arrest of Juan Carlos Pozo Navarrete and Patricia del Carmen Díaz Madariaga comes at a time when federal authorities have expressed alarm over a national epidemic of opioid overdoses that includes heroin.

In the case uncovered by the DEA, the investigation began in 2016 when investigators learned about a narcotic supplier from Ecuador.

On April 26 of this year, an informant met in Doral with a partner of the narcotics supplier from the Andean country.

“During the video- and audio-recorded meeting, the undercover officer showed [the] subject ‘sham’ United States currency and advised that he would use these funds for the meeting,” the criminal complaint says. “Subject then explained that his associate would deliver the drugs.”

The subject had previously explained, according to the complaint, that his drug-trafficking organization in Ecuador used commercial flights to import heroin into Miami and transport it to New York.

On May 30, the undercover agent and an informant met with the defendant, Pozo Navarrete, at a hotel on Northwest 36th Street near Doral, where Díaz Madariaga “stood at a distance and observed the transaction,” according to the DEA criminal complaint.

After Pozo Navarrete and the undercover agent exchanged the “sham” money for 2.5 kilos of heroin, agents arrested the couple.

A DEA spokeswoman said she could not comment because the case is under investigation.

Pozo Navarrete’s lawyer could not be reached for comment. Diaz Madariaga’s lawyer said his client is innocent.

“She is the innocent girlfriend of the co-defendant and knew nothing about the drugs being transferred,” lawyer Roy Jeffrey Kahn said.

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