As a handful of tearful relatives watched, a South Florida man was sentenced to almost 4 1/2 years in federal prison and deported for his role in the largest drug case in Maryland history.
"I recognize that it was wrong," Oscar Orlando Alba, 29, of Miami told U.S. District Judge Frederic N. Smalkin before his sentencing.
Alba pleaded with Smalkin to have mercy on him because he pleaded guilty in the case and cooperated with the U.S. attorney's office to bring evidence against his father, Luis Francisco Alba, 49, who was convicted last month of conspiring to distribute cocaine.
The cocaine was transported from South America in steel chemical drums to Dundalk Marine Terminal, then to a warehouse in East Baltimore.
"I wish your honor would know that I will lose my family because of the fact that I testified against my father," Oscar Alba said. "I'm the one who brought him to jail."
That testimony appears to have helped Alba avoid a long prison term.
"You could have had life, the rest of your life in jail," Smalkin told Alba.
Smalkin also fined Alba $100 and ordered him to be deported to Bogota, Colombia, when his sentence is served. Alba can apply for readmittance to the United States through the U.S. attorney general.
His father is expected to be sentenced Oct. 17. He could be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life without parole.
A third man, Jose Orozco-Alba, 30, of Queens, N.Y. -- a nephew of Luis Alba who pleaded guilty and testified for the prosecution -- will be sentenced this month.
Two other men indicted in the drug case remain at large.
The case began with a tip from an area resident about unusual activity at the Chemical Treatment Inc. warehouse on Moravia Park Drive in Baltimore. Federal agents staked out the warehouse.
On Feb. 18, an informant told investigators that a Colombian man was planning to send several men from New York and New Jersey to the warehouse "to pick up a thousand kilograms of drugs contained in large pipes," according to court records. A kilogram is equal to 2.2 pounds.
Eight days later, an undercover federal agent posing as a trucker willing to transport the illegal loads met with the Albas at the Vince Lombardi rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. The agents arrested the three men at the rest stop and brought them to Maryland for trial.
Pub Date: 9/04/97