Orlando, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces that Nelson Pablo Yester-Garrido (62, of Cuba) today pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute a large amount of high-grade marijuana in the Middle District of Florida. Yester-Garrido faces a maximum penalty of 40 years in federal prison. Sentencing is set for October 22, 2020.
According to court documents, from the late 1980s through early 1997, Yester-Garrido was part of a group involved in importing kilogram amounts of cocaine and other narcotics into the United States, including by negotiating the purchase of a Russian diesel submarine for Colombian drug suppliers. Around 1997, Yester-Garrido fled to South Africa to escape prosecution related to charges that had been filed in the Southern District of Florida (which have since been dismissed).
Yester-Garrido then conspired with Juan Almeida, Andrew Cassara, and others to possess with the intent to distribute a large amount of marijuana in the Middle District of Florida.
In January 2015, the DEA began investigating the conspiracy, and in January 2017, an indictment was returned in the Middle District of Florida charging three of Yester-Garrido’s co-conspirators, Almeida, Cassara, and Wade Jones, Jr. (All three were sentenced in 2018 to varying terms of imprisonment.)
In October 2017, Yester-Garrido himself was indicted in the Middle District of Florida for conspiracy, from February 2012 through February 2015, to distribute marijuana and on related gun charges. Yester-Garrido was arrested in October 2017 by Italian authorities on a provisional arrest request at the Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy. In July 2019, the Italian judicial authorities and the Ministry of Justice granted the request for Yester-Garrido’s extradition to the United States, and he was brought to the Middle District of Florida to answer the indictment against him.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in securing the defendant’s extradition from Italy. The U.S. Marshals Service also provided critical assistance in the extradition to the Middle District of Florida. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sean P. Shecter.