U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray announced today that Christopher Anthony Samuels, 37, of Montego Bay, Jamaica, appeared in federal court and pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and importation related charges. U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer presided over today’s plea hearing.
Western District of North Carolina U.S. Attorneys Office For Immeiate Release
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Jamaican National Caught Smuggling Cocaine At Charlotte Airport Pleads Guilty To Drug Importation Charges
According to filed court documents and the plea hearing, on November 6, 2018, Samuels flew into Charlotte-Douglas International Airport onboard a flight that originated in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Samuels was scheduled to connect in Charlotte, and fly the same day to New York City. Court records show that, upon entry into the United States, Samuels’ suitcase and backpack were inspected by U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officers on duty at Port of Entry in Charlotte. Samuels was sent to secondary inspection, during which time CBP officers X-rayed Samuels’ luggage. Upon further inspection, CBP officers, working jointly with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), discovered two taped bags weighing approximately two (2) kilograms of cocaine, hidden within the suitcases’ bottom liners. As Samuels admitted today in court, he intended to deliver the cocaine to additional co-conspirators, located in New Jersey.
Samuels pleaded guilty to drug trafficking conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and unlawful importation of cocaine. Samuels is facing a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years, a $5 million fine, and possible deportation. A sentencing date has not been set.
The case is the result of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Airport Drug Interdiction Initiative, that targets international drug smuggling and financial crimes, including money laundering, bulk cash smuggling, and unlicensed money transmitters/transporters that utilize air travel to further their criminal enterprise. Through this initiative, HSI incorporates the collaborative efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies, to include CBP, North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Divisions of Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) and Department of Correction (DOC), and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney Murray thanked these agencies for their joint investigation of this case.
Sanjeev Bhasker, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina in Charlotte is in charge of the prosecution.