• 64°

U.S. attorney: Beaumont could see drug trials for Colombians

By Ken Stickney

ken.stickney@panews.com

BEAUMONT — U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown said Wednesday this city may see its share of federal prosecutions of international drug criminals.

The Trump administration appointee, sworn in to federal office in February, said the the Eastern District that he oversees has been the site of some trials for Colombian drug kingpins and he may eventually send some of these cases to Beaumont, one of six offices under his oversight in a 43-county region.

As U.S. attorney, Brown, a former state district attorney in Sherman, is responsible for prosecution of federal criminal offenses in the eastern portion of the state as well as civil matters.

He said he has spent some of his early time in office visiting Colombia, where the government there has spent some three decades in pitched battle against the drug cartels and their successors, criminal enterprises that are responsible for more than 90 percent of the flow of cocaine into the U.S.

Combined efforts of the U.S. and Colombian governments has led to more prosecutions and extraditions of Colombian drug traffickers to the U.S., which Brown said international criminals fear.

Brown reviewed the recent history of the Colombian drug trade for the Rotary Club of Beaumont, starting with narcoterrorist Pablo Escobar and the development of the Medellin Cartel, which was responsible for developing smuggling routes for cocaine into the U.S., and leading to the present.

He said U.S.-Colombian cooperative efforts in law enforcement have led to about 100 drug cartel extraditions and prosecutions from Colombian every year. On average, he said, Colombian drug criminals draw sentences of 19 years in the U.S.

Brown said cases also develop from interdictions of drug transportation between Colombian and the U.S. — most of the drug traffic goes through Mexico — and jurisdiction in some of those cases have been in the Plano area, where accused international drug dealers have been sent for trial. They could be sent to Beaumont, as well, he said.

He said more than 120 international drug traffickers have been indicted in Eastern Texas; sending cases here could expedite justice.

In other matters, Brown said:

  • His office is participating in a crime task force with emphasis on the Beaumont-Port Arthur area, where violent crime has escalated.
  • The Eastern District is concerned about immigration issues and protecting the border, although southern Texas sees more of those cases.
  • His experience as a district attorney has helped establish him with other law enforcement officials in the state. As a DA, he said, he had to be “a jack of all trades.”

Brown said he is a crime-show fanatic, and moved from private practice to criminal prosecution as quickly as he could in his career.