Colombian drug smuggling suspect to face Lehigh court

By buseman · Jun 27, 2010 ·
  1. buseman
    Ewarg Larios allegedly was part of a ring that brought in drugs from Colombia.

    There were two sides to Ewarg Larios, Ramiro Ortiz testified Thursday.

    One was a nurse who worked long hours helping others. The other was a drug trafficker who would travel to his native Colombia, where he or people working for him would swallow carefully wrapped balloons filled with drugs and smuggle them into the Lehigh Valley, Ortiz said.

    Ortiz testified he and Larios were once drug partners and had planned a trip to Colombia before state narcotics agents busted the smuggling ring in the fall.

    Asked if he was planning to bring drugs into the country, Ortiz responded, I seen how they do it and that's disgusting.

    District Judge Ron Manescu ruled Larios must face Lehigh County Court on a number of drug charges after hearing testimony from Ortiz and a state narcotics agent.

    The agent described how agents took down the alleged ring, starting with the arrests of a pair of mules who brought more than $130,000 worth of cocaine and heroin from Colombia in their stomachs.

    Authorities say Larios, 40, of Easton, and his brother headed the $4.8 million drug smuggling organization that had been bringing high-purity drugs from South America to the Lehigh Valley for the past three years. His brother, Herbert Larios, was one of the two mules charged in October for allegedly attempting to smuggle drugs into the country.

    He and another Colombian, Walter VonRoestel-Navarro, were arrested in a hotel on Airport Road in Hanover Township, Lehigh County. Agents found recently passed cocaine and heroin pellets in the hotel room and the pair passed more drugs at the hospital.

    State narcotics agent Thomas Sedor testified how that arrest led to more arrests in the drug organization, including that of a Center Valley woman and a Bethlehem family who allegedly were the group's biggest buyers of heroin. All of them are awaiting trial.

    Police also filed charges against Ewarg Larios at the time, but he was in Colombia and authorities weren't sure if he would come back. He turned himself in months later, Deputy Attorney General Robert D. Rosner said.

    The Larios organization allegedly smuggled heroin and cocaine every three or four months, prosecutors say.

    The mules or body carriers, Sedor testified, would swallow carefully wrapped pellets of cocaine or heroin, each weighing about 9 to 10 grams. Sometimes, the smugglers would swallow up to a kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of the drugs.

    Ortiz testified Thursday that he would wire money from his account to Ewarg Larios when they had a deal in place. Sometimes, Ortiz said, he would meet Ewarg Larios at an arranged location with cash. Ortiz could not remember all the details of their transactions because there were so many, he testified.

    He said the last one was in June or July of 2009. He said he and Ewarg Larios were planning a trip to Colombia, but Herbert Larios went instead.

    Ortiz said he would also pay money to another Larios brother, Melvin Larios. Rosner said he has not been charged and an investigation into him is continuing.

    By Manuel Gamiz Jr
    June 25, 2010,0,712911.story


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