Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, James Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) New York Field Division, New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, and George P. Beach II, Superintendent of the New York State Police, announced today the extradition of an alleged Colombian drug trafficker who conspired to smuggle multi-kilogram quantities of heroin and cocaine to New York City aboard the emblematic Royal Spanish Navy training vessel, the Juan Sebastian de Elcano, between April and May of 2014.
JORGE ALBERTO SIADO-ALVAREZ (“SIADO”), who arrived in New York from Colombia yesterday afternoon, is the second narcotics trafficker to be extradited in the case. This morning, SIADO is scheduled to appear before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Bonnie G. Wittner in Part 61 for arraignment on an indictment filed by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor.
Co-conspirator JORGE LUIS HOAYECK (“HOAYECK”) was previously extradited from Colombia to New York in November of 2016.The indictment charges both HOAYECK and SIADO with Operating as a Major Trafficker under New York State’s kingpin statute, which carries a possible life sentence. HOAYECK and SIADO are also charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, two counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, two counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree and two counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree.
SIADO and HOAYECK were arrested in Colombia on January 22, 2016 pursuant to an extradition request. HOAYECK was arrested in the port city of Cartagena and SIADO was apprehended outside the city. The arrests resulted from close collaboration between the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, the DEA-led New York Drug Enforcement Task Force (DETF) Group T-42, DEA-Colombia, the Colombian National Police, and the Civil Guard of Spain. As with HOAYECK, the Government of Colombia approved an extradition request for SIADO to New York City for prosecution.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of International Affairs, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Marshals Service assisted in the investigation.
Narcotics smuggled from Colombia to New York City and Connecticut
A long-term investigation revealed that SIADO and HOAYECK oversaw a major international drug operation from their base in Cartagena, Colombia. As part of the conspiracy, SIADO and HOAYECK allegedly supplied narcotics to New York City-based traffickers. Additionally, SIADO and HOAYECK worked with the New York City-based traffickers to sell kilogram quantities of heroin and cocaine and sought payment for the narcotics.
Charges in the indictment center on a shipment of eight kilograms of narcotics (over 17 lbs.), including four kilograms of heroin and four kilograms of cocaine, delivered to New York City by Spanish midshipmen in training to become officers of the Spanish Navy aboard the Juan Sebastian de Elcano. The famed, four-masted schooner was built in 1927 and has been viewed as a symbolic “floating embassy” for Spain. At the time the drug shipment was smuggled aboard, the ship was on a six-month voyage that originated in Cadiz, Spain and included stops in France, Italy and Morocco, before crossing the Atlantic Ocean for stops in Cartagena, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and New York City.
The wiretap investigation, which was pursued by Colombian authorities, revealed that SIADO and HOAYECK communicated with one another and with the New York City-based narcotics traffickers by cellular phones using coded, cryptic language and agreed to pay two midshipmen to hide the narcotics aboard the Juan Sebastian de Elcano. The midshipmen received the narcotics while the vessel was docked in Cartagena on or about April 16, 2014.
A few weeks later, the ship arrived in the Port of New York and docked on Manhattan’s West Side near the U.S.S. Intrepid. On May 14, 2014, the ship’s last full day in New York City, the two midshipmen met with the local traffickers and delivered the heroin and cocaine to a residence in the Bronx, New York. The meetings were captured on video camera. The two Spaniards then returned to the ship, which departed New York on May 15, 2014. The Juan Sebastian de Elcano then made subsequent stops at ports in Ireland, Norway, and Germany before returning to Spain in July 2014.
Shortly after the delivery of the heroin and cocaine, members of DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force Group (NYDETF) T-42 – comprised of DEA special agents, New York City Police Department (NYPD) detectives and New York State Police investigators – tracked two vehicles linked to the New York City-based drug trafficking organization as they travelled to Hartford, Conn. to deliver heroin to another distributor. With assistance from the DEA’s New Haven District Office and the Hartford Resident Office, agents and officers seized the four kilograms of heroin delivered by the Spaniards and additional multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics, drug paraphernalia, and cash from a residence in Connecticut.
Meanwhile, the NYDETF recovered also the four kilograms of cocaine from a vehicle parked outside of a Bronx stash location, as well as additional narcotics, weapons, and narcotics paraphernalia from other locations.
A total of seven individuals associated with the New York City-based trafficking group were indicted following the delivery involving the Juan Sebastian de Elcano, including six arrested in New York City and Connecticut, and one arrested a year later in the Dominican Republic.
Investigation in Spain
After departing New York, and then stopping in Ireland, Norway and Germany, the Juan Sebastian de Elcano eventually made its way back to the Port of Bueu, Galicia, in northwestern Spain in July of 2014 before returning to its home port of Cadiz, in southern Spain. It was near the time that the ship docked in Spain that US authorities alerted Spain regarding the New York City narcotics seizures linked to the ship. In response, in early August of 2016, the Spanish Civil Guard conducted a thorough search of the ship and recovered 127 kilograms of cocaine (nearly 280 lbs.) in a storeroom for reserve sails. This multi-kilogram seizure is the subject of an ongoing investigation. SIADO and HOAYECK have not been charged in connection with this shipment of narcotics. To date, Spanish authorities have indicted six sailors and one civilian cook in connection with the overall investigation.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan thanked her office’s Special Investigations Bureau, the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, DEA-Colombia, the Colombian National Police and the Civil Guard of Spain, as well as the DOJ’s Office of International Affairs, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Marshals Service.
The charges and allegations are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.Download Press Release
Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office
New York City Police Department
DEA, New York Division
New York State Police