Defendant Who Failed To Appear in Court Before 2009 Drug Trial Arrested in Panama and Returned to United States – Department of Justice

CHICAGO — A man who failed to appear in federal court in Chicago before his 2009 drug trial has been arrested in Panama and returned to the United States.
COSME CHACON, 53, was arrested Tuesday after arriving in Panama City on a flight from Colombia.  Chacon was removed to Chicago and appeared Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth W. Jantz in the Northern District of Illinois.  Chacon is currently detained in federal custody.
The arrest and return were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; R. Sean Fitzgerald, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of Homeland Security Investigations; and Justin Campbell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago.  IRS Criminal Investigation Panama City, the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided support in securing the defendant’s return to the United States.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian F. Williamson represents the government.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces investigation.  OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles drug traffickers, money launderers, and other alleged criminal offenders that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against alleged criminal networks.
Chacon was among four defendants indicted in Chicago in 2007.  The indictment accused the defendants of participating in a drug trafficking organization that transported heroin to Chicago from New York, Florida, and Texas.  After the drugs were sold in the Chicago area, Chacon allegedly laundered the illicit proceeds through wire transfers to Colombia and other overseas locations.  He was charged with drug conspiracy and money laundering.
Chacon was free on bond when he failed to appear for status hearings in the weeks leading up to a scheduled trial date of Sept. 21, 2009.  A warrant was then issued for his arrest.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt.  Chacon is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  The drug conspiracy charge against Chacon is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in federal prison and a maximum of life, while the money laundering charge is punishable by up to 20 years.  If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
Chacon’s three co-defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced to federal prison terms of 16 years, 12 years, and one year.
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