Anti-Drug Warrior's Wife Charged With Trafficking

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Messy stuff, cocaine – particularly when you’re fighting a war against it. Even as Colonel James Hiett headed up U.S. anti-drug efforts in Colombia, his wife is reported to have been mailing packages of the stuff to New York from a U.S. Army base in Bogota. Laurie Anne Hiett surrendered to law enforcement officers in New York Thursday, after being charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Hiett was served with an arrest warrant in June after police intercepted an envelope mailed by her, which contained 2.7 pounds of cocaine. She reportedly told investigators that she had mailed six packages to New York for her husband’s chauffeur, without inquiring as to their contents. Police questioned the unnamed recipient of the drugs, who was found in possession of a second bag of cocaine and admitted to having taken delivery of similar packages sent from Bogota, which he’d been paid to receive. Although the Army cleared Colonel Hiett of any wrongdoing, his request for a transfer was granted.

The case highlights the sophisticated methods adopted by narco-traffickers to bring their wares to market despite the war on drugs. Colombia and Mexico have long complained that while they’re routinely pilloried as the source of the problem, the massive demand for drugs in the U.S. creates an incentive for traffickers to develop sophisticated paramilitary structures that infiltrate law enforcement and other state bodies in order to beat drug-interdiction efforts. Smuggling cocaine off a U.S. military base dedicated precisely to stopping its flow may mark a new level of boldness. But as long as there are fortunes to be made supplying North America’s hunger for the white powder, people in a poor country such as Colombia may be willing to take the risk.