Three are arrested in drug sting

An undercover officer offers to hand over cocaine for a $40,000 fee.

By KEVIN GRAHAM, Times Staff Writer
Published October 18, 2007

TAMPA - Undercover agents have arrested two brothers and another man, accusing them of organizing a scheme to transport 22 pounds of cocaine in a WestShore Plaza mall parking lot.

Ariel Gustavo Ramirez-Roa, 34, and Wilder Mauricio Ramirez-Roa, 29, both of 10081 Mooreshire Circle, Orlando, and Jorge Andres Osorio, 29, of 20826 16th St. NW, Pembroke Pines, remained at the Orient Road jail Wednesday since being arrested Oct. 12. They are being held without bail.

Tuesday, a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed a federal criminal complaint against the men, saying they conspired to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute it.

The complaint said the men were expecting a cocaine shipment from Colombia and that Osorio had a custom-built hidden compartment, with hydraulic lifts, in the luggage area of a sport utility vehicle that he planned to use to transport the cocaine.

Oct. 9, the Ramirez-Roa brothers met Edward Quinones at the mall to talk about the transaction, authorities said. The men didn't know that Quinones was an undercover Tampa police detective.

The detective told the men he had 10 kilograms of cocaine to hand over if they paid him a $40,000 transportation fee, the agent said. Ariel Ramirez-Roa secured the money and set up a meeting with Quinones on Oct. 12 in WestShore Plaza's parking garage, the complaint said.

When Ariel Ramirez-Roa met Quinones, he said he didn't have all the money but would get it from a person waiting in the car that would be used to transport the cocaine.

While the detective waited in the mall's parking garage, Ariel Ramirez-Roa walked to an SUV where Osorio sat with the rest of the $40,000, the complaint said. Ramirez-Roa returned to Quinones and they went to a nearby office, where Ramirez-Roa was arrested.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officers were monitoring the Osorio's SUV and another SUV that dropped off Ariel Ramirez-Roa. The complaint identified the driver of the second SUV as Wilder Ramirez-Roa, who said after his arrest that he was in Tampa to help his brother "in his narcotics business."

Osorio told agents he had given Ariel Ramirez-Roa $13,500 that day for a business transaction, though he said he wasn't sure what it involved, the complaint said. Osorio later told authorities that he believed Ariel Ramirez-Roa was in the drug business, the agent said.

Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or 813 226-3433.