Feds Bust Jamaican Drug Gangs Through ‘Green Cards’ Sting
MIAMI (AP) _ Federal agents used the lure of green cards to catch more than 90 suspected members of seven major Jamaican drug gangs.
During the three-year sting, announced Wednesday, undercover agents posing as corrupt ``immigration consultants″ sold the U.S. resident cards to drug traffickers for $5,000 cash or a half-pound or so of cocaine.
The cards _ sold through a storefront in a Fort Lauderdale suburb and elsewhere _ enabled agents to track the drug suspects’ movements in and out of the country. Green cards have to be shown at immigration checkpoints.
In many cases, the arrests came when the suspects returned to the storefronts to trade in their green cards for permanent papers.
``Today was green card day,″ U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey said. ``These traffickers expected to get green cards. Instead they have the opportunity, we believe, to stay as guests of federal taxpayers, incarcerated in federal prisons.″
By Thursday, 95 drug suspects had been arrested in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Philadeplphia, Trenton, N.J., and Springfield, Mass. They were among 119 people charged in a federal indictment with trafficking, unlawfully obtaining resident cards and alien smuggling.
Authorities said the arrests ended the day-to-day activities of the seven drug ``posses.″
``We’ve taken a giant bite out of crime,″ said Walter Cadman, district director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
INS and other federal and local law enforcement agencies took part in the sting, which marked the first time green cards were used this way.
Law officers also seized 110 pounds of cocaine and $60,000 cash.
The suspects could get up to 10 years in prison and $1 million in fines.