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'Operation Mirror Image' Disrupts Southeast Drug Trafficking Ring

5:18 PM, Nov 16, 2011   |    comments
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BAKER COUNTY, Fla. -- A drug operation spanning from Mexico to Jacksonville has been disrupted, leading to federal prison time for several suspects.

Baker County Sheriff Joey Dobson, United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill and DEA Special Agent Mark R. Trouville held a news conference to discuss Operation Mirror Image.

According to documents cited by O'Neill, Carlos Cordero, 65, Maria Christina Martinez, 52, Rita Mukherjee, 23, all from Houston, Texas, Steven Hoskins, 39, from Jacksonville, and Baker County residents John Christopher Townsend, 39, and Edwin McDonald, 54, have each pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute 5 kg or more of cocaine.

Cordero, Townsend and Hoskins, each of whom has a prior federal drug conviction, face 20 years (mandatory minimum) to life in federal prison.

Martinez and McDonald each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life in federal prison.

Mukherjee pled guilty to using a telephone to facilitate the conspiracy, and faces up to 4 years in federal prison.

Three others face charges as well, O'Neill indicated.

Baker County resident Doyle Hardenbrook, 44, is listed as a "courier" on the poster highlighting Operation Mirror Image.  He was arrested in April and has a change of plea hearing scheduled for Nov. 22.

Georgia resident Andre James, 29, is being held on federal drug charges in Georgia, but will be indicted in Florida "in the near future," according to O'Neill.

Fifty-two-year-old Dallas, Texas, resident Alejandro Arreozola-Villareal remains at large.

The plea agreements cited by O'Neill indicate that Cordero and Martinez had a source in Mexico for cocaine, and that in June 2010, the first transaction took place when they drove 8 kilograms of cocaine to Baker County, concealing the drugs in their tires as they drove.

That cocaine was then sold to Jacksonville dealers, O'Neill indicated.

Townsend, according to O'Neill started the process in April 2010 when he learned that Hoskins was interested in purchasing "large quantities" of cocaine.

From the initial transaction until April 2011, Townsend got cocaine from Cordero and Martinez approximately 10 times, O'Neill said.  Each of the remaining transactions involved about 16 kg of cocaine in the tires.

Townsend is alleged to have paid approximately $400,000 for each 16 kg load, meaning the value of the drug operation is about $4 million.

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