Colonel's Wife Trafficked Heroin, Not Cocaine

Colonel's Wife Trafficked Heroin, Not Cocaine
Posted by FoM on November 03, 1999 at 08:35:37 PT
Source: CNN Interactive
Two packages seized in a drug trafficking case against the wife of the former commander of the U.S. anti-drug operation in Colombia contained heroin, not cocaine as first thought, according to court papers. 
Laurie Ann Hiett, wife of Col. James Hiett, made headlines in August by surrendering to federal authorities in Brooklyn on drug conspiracy charges. Field tests had indicated two parcels she allegedly shipped to the United States from the U.S. Embassy in Bogota each held 1.2 kilos of cocaine. But since then, laboratory tests "have determined that these packages, in fact, contained heroin," prosecutor Lee Dunst wrote in a October 21 letter to Mrs. Hiett's attorney. Dunst refused Tuesday to discuss the case. But in his letter, he said the fact the evidence is heroin instead of cocaine is "irrelevant" because, as an alleged drug smuggler, Mrs. Hiett "need not know the exact nature or type of drug in her possession." Prosecutors said at the time of Mrs. Hiett's arrest that if convicted on the cocaine charges, she faced up to 12 years in prison. Charges involving heroin can carry a stiffer penalty. Mrs. Hiett, 36 -- who has not been indicted and is free on bail -- has denied the charges. Her attorney, Paul Lazarus, said the new information does not change her defense: that she was unaware drugs were in the packages. "If she didn't know it was cocaine, she didn't know it was heroin," Lazarus said Tuesday. Court papers show Mrs. Hiett has agreed to give up her right to a speedy prosecution, in part to allow both sides to pursue a possible plea bargain. An investigation by the Army Criminal Investigation Division in Panama cleared Col. Hiett, saying he had "no prior knowledge" of alleged cocaine shipments to the United States involving his wife. At his request, he was transferred to Fort Monroe, Virginia, headquarters of the Training and Doctrine Command. Mrs. Hiett became a suspect in May when her name appeared on the return address on one of the two packages, which was seized after a routine search by U.S. Customs in Miami. The shoebox-size package had been shipped from the post office for U.S. citizens inside the U.S. Embassy in Bogota to a Queens address of Hernan Arcila. Undercover officers delivered the package to the home of Arcila, finding more drugs and documents naming Jorge Ayala, a civilian driver for U.S. military commanders in Colombia. They also arrested Arcila, who allegedly told them he had received five or six packages from the same source. After reviewing Customs records, investigators learned similar packages had been shipped from the embassy to a private post office box in Manhattan. There they seized another parcel containing what was then thought to cocaine. When Mrs. Hiett was finally confronted by investigators in June, she admitted shipping the packages and filing out the Customs forms. But she claimed she did it for Ayala, and denied knowing what she was sending. Ayala told investigators that Mrs. Hiett used cocaine and had asked him to buy the drug in a section of Bogota known for drug sales. Court papers said other witnesses reported seeing her there before. November 2, 1999 Web posted at: 7:43 PM EST (0043 GMT) Copyright 1999 The Associated Press
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Comment #3 posted by observer on January 16, 2001 at 21:17:02 PT
loyalty ...
I'm am still in aww I actually drank with Mrs. Hiett and the COL then LTC. in Panama.Hmmm. Well, I once had a drink at the Ft Monroe officer's club... (1980) I don't think the Hietts where there, though, at the time. I am shocked but of course never will I lose my loyalty to Col. Hiett. GOD Speed sir and to you as well Mrs. Hiett.....It is Mr. Hiett. He's a civilian, now. He'll be cooling his heels in the brig for a few more months, then probation. No pension, nothing. Wife Laurie is doing five years in club fed. He won't be the last one to be tempted, especially if (US DOD) operations really get cranked up in Colombia. (New/more smuggling conduits opened up on military transports.) Just exactly as for alcohol prohibition in the 20's, there is too much corrupting money to be made as long as cocaine is kept illegal. Still, the Hietts' treatment is far better than you or I would have gotten. We'd be in for life, maybe facing firing squad (or chair, etc.) under the "kingpin" laws, for the same or lesser acts.Hiett news stories over the years: 
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Comment #2 posted by Sgt Mark Dean on January 16, 2001 at 20:45:26 PT:
I'm am still in aww I actually drank with Mrs. Hiett and the COL then LTC. in Panama. I am shocked but of course never will I lose my loyalty to Col. Hiett. GOD Speed sir and to you as well Mrs. Hiett.....
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Comment #1 posted by shd on January 18, 2000 at 16:57:26 PT:
The Hiett Drug Bust
I was a student of Mrs. Laurie Hiett in NC and her actions, if proven true, disgust me. How could she disgrace her profession and former school by trafficking drugs. But more importantly I feel sorry for her husband and their children. I feel that she should be given no special treatment because her husband is a Col. She has disgraced her family and both her countries, The United States and Panama.
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