PHILADELPHIA – 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 4 kilograms of cocaine for purpose of unlawful importation to the United States.
Azocar, who resided in Venezuela, used the Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago to facilitate his distribution of kilogram quantities of cocaine. 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 U.S. 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 kilogram 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 undercover detective also introduced a confidential source to Azocar. The confidential source traveled from the United States to the island of 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 Trinidadian 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 Trinidadian courts, but was eventually extradited to Philadelphia, PA, on July 23, 2019 to face justice. The defendant pleaded guilty in February 2020.
“Drug trafficking preys on individuals in addiction and makes our entire city less safe,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “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 neighborhoods with deadly drugs and put them behind bars, where they belong.”
“Azocar mistakenly thought that he could elude the reach of United States law by remaining outside the US as he sold multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine destined for Philadelphia. As a result of the coordinated efforts of DEA and prosecutors in the US and Trinidad, Azocar was arrested in Trinidad and extradited to Philadelphia to face US justice,” said Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division. “The DEA is most appreciative of the cooperation and support provided by Trinidadian police and prosecutors. DEA has offices around the world and will continue to work tirelessly to extradite significant drug-traffickers like Azocar who pose the greatest threat to our country.”
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Adminstration, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jason P. Bologna.