Assistant U. S. Attorney P. Kevin Mokhtari (619) 546-8402
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – August 22, 2017
SAN DIEGO – A man who fled in the middle of his three-day cocaine trafficking trial was arrested yesterday after being a fugitive for two months. Itai Enriquez-Rodriguez, 21, was arrested after being located in Gilroy near San Jose, California.
On July 7, 2016, Enriquez-Rodriguez was arrested at the Otay Mesa, California Port of Entry after being caught with three kilograms of cocaine in his vehicle. Shortly after his arrest, Enriquez-Rodriguez was released on bond. Following an investigation by Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Enriquez-Rodriguez was indicted on conspiracy to import cocaine and importation of cocaine charges. Enriquez-Rodriguez persisted in his not-guilty plea and went to trial.
On June 21, 2017, Enriquez-Rodriguez’s trial began. At the end of the first day of trial, the Honorable Marilyn L. Huff ordered Enriquez-Rodriguez to return the following morning. The next morning, however, Enriquez-Rodriguez failed to appear. The parties recessed that morning to attempt to locate Enriquez-Rodriguez. During that recess, HSI agents discovered a Facebook post by Enriquez-Rodriguez’s brother depicting him and his brother, defendant Enriquez-Rodriguez. The brother’s Facebook account also included a photo of a man with a handgun with the caption, “He who laughs last, laughs the best. And I’m in no hurry.” Both of the images were posted to Facebook the same morning Enriquez-Rodriguez fled.
Finding that Enriquez-Rodriguez had voluntarily absented himself from trial, Judge Huff ruled the trial could continue in absentia. Trial concluded on June 23, 2017 with the jury finding Enriquez-Rodriguez guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine and importation of cocaine.
Over the next two months, the U.S. Marshals Service and HSI followed leads to help identify fugitive Enriquez-Rodriguez’s whereabouts. On August 21, 2017, the Marshals Service obtained information that Enriquez-Rodriguez was hiding out in his hometown of Gilroy, California. Following that lead, the U.S. Marshals Service arrested Enriquez-Rodriguez in a vehicle outside his girlfriend’s residence.
On August 18, 2017, Enriquez-Rodriguez was indicted by a federal grand jury on bail jumping charges.
Enriquez-Rodriguez’s sentencing on the cocaine trafficking charges is scheduled for October 23, 2017 at 9:00 am before the Honorable Marilyn L. Huff.
DEFENDANT Case Numbers 17cr0059-H, 17cr2379-H
Itai Enriquez-Rodriguez Age: 21 Gilroy, CA
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Conspiracy to Import Cocaine; Importation of Cocaine – Title 18, U.S.C., Sections 952, 960, 963
Maximum penalty: 20 years’ imprisonment and $1,000,000 fine
Bail Jumping – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 3146.
Maximum penalty: 10 years’ imprisonment and $250,000 fine
Homeland Security Investigations
United States Marshals Service
*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Southern District of California