A Venezuelan national who used T&T to facilitate the distribution of quantities of cocaine into the United States has been sentenced to more than 12 years by a US district judge.

A report from the Department of Justice Eastern District of Pennsylvania said United States attorney William M McSwain announced that Eduardo Gregorio Azocar, 48, of Venezuela was sentenced to more than 12 years (151 months) in prison and five years of supervised release by United States District Judge Harvey Bartle, III, for the attempted distribution of more than 30 kilograms of cocaine for purpose of unlawful importation to the United States, and the distribution of more than four kilograms of cocaine for purpose of unlawful importation to the United States.

The report from the US Department of Justice said Azocar, who resided in Venezuela, used Trinidad and Tobago to facilitate his distribution of kilogram quantities of cocaine.

It said In the summer of 2015, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Trinidadian law enforcement received information that Azocar had 50 kilograms of cocaine that he wanted to sell to a US buyer.

On August 26, 2015, Trinidadian law enforcement agents watched the defendant access a locked storage container in Trinidad to inspect his cocaine.

On August 27, 2015, an undercover detective in the United States made a series of telephone calls to Azocar. Posing as a Philadelphia-area resident, the undercover detective said he was interested in buying quantities of cocaine and negotiated the purchase price with the defendant.

Before those negotiations were completed, Trinidadian law enforcement agents searched the storage container and seized a total of 30.4 kilograms of cocaine.

The US Department of Justice said the undercover detective also introduced a confidential source to Azocar.

The confidential source travelled from the United States to Trinidad on multiple dates, meeting with Azocar in person in Trinidad.

On October 4, 2015, at Azocar’s direction, an associate of Azocar sold to the confidential source 4.1 kilograms of cocaine which was destined for the United States.

On October 26, 2015, the confidential source met Azocar in a Trinidad hotel and paid him $22,500 for the previously negotiated cocaine sale.

In a recorded conversation, the defendant told the confidential source: “I’ve been looking for a contact just like you and I found you. I am really happy.” In that same conversation, the confidential source and Azocar discussed the cost of moving the cocaine from Trinidad to Philadelphia, the price of a kilogram of cocaine in Philadelphia, and the price of a kilogram of heroin in Philadelphia.

Azocar was indicted in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and arrested in Trinidad on June 16, 2016.

He fought extradition for years in the High Court of Trinidad, but was eventually extradited to Philadelphia, PA, on July 23, 2019 to face justice. The defendant pleaded guilty in February 2020.

McSwain said, “Drug trafficking preys on individuals in addiction and makes our entire city less safe. Narcotics don’t just magically appear on Philadelphia streets — they are smuggled in by people like Azocar, seeking to profit off the suffering of our people and communities. My office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners at all levels, and in other jurisdictions and nations, to investigate and convict those who are poisoning our neighbourhoods with deadly drugs and put them behind bars, where they belong.”

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and is prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jason P Bologna.