Wife of U.S. Army Colonel to Plead Guilty

Wife of U.S. Army Colonel to Plead Guilty
Posted by FoM on January 19, 2000 at 17:55:56 PT
By Joseph Contreras, Newsweek
Source: Newsweek
Laurie Hiett, the wife of a U.S. Army colonel who formerly headed Washington's anti-drug campaign inside Colombia, is expected to plead guilty to drug-related charges next Wednesday, Jan. 26. According to correspondence filed by assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Dunst in the U.S. district court for the Eastern District of New York, Hiett opted for a plea bargain on charges of having smuggled nearly 15 pounds of heroin last spring through the private mail service of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, where her husband, Col. James C. Hiett, had been posted in 1988 as head of the U.S. Military Group. 
She could face a minimum prison term of 10 years, but as a first offender, the 36-year-old Spanish teacher may receive a lighter sentence. The charges facing Hiett first hit the headlines last August, when she surrendered to federal authorities in New York City three months after an associate, Hernan Arcila, was arrested at an apartment in Queens, New York in May. Hiett had shipped six parcels allegedly containing one kilo of heroin each to Arcila, a Colombian national, during a six-week period beginning in early April. The drugs had an estimated street value of $500,000. Arcila pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and heroin on January 5. Hiett previously denied the charges, claiming she shipped the parcels without knowing their contents.The disclosure of the charges against Hiett deeply embarrassed the Clinton Administration at a time when the U.S. government had been urging Colombian officials to crack down on corruption within their own ranks in the fight against drug cultivation and production. Colombia accounts for 80 percent of the world's cocaine supply and about three-quarters of the heroin consumed in the U.S. Although the quantities of drugs that Hiett and Arcila apparently smuggled into the U.S. were relatively paltry, the mere fact of her involvement prompted Col. Hiett to request an immediate transfer out of Bogota. As Newsweek reported in its Nov. 15, 1999 issue, Hiett reportedly had a lengthy history of cocaine and methamphetamine abuse that came to the attention of her husband's colleagues and superiors in the U.S. army prior to her arrest. But that did not deter U.S. ambassador to Colombia Curtis Kamman from approving the colonel's assignment in the world's largest hard drug-producing country.Newsweek, January 19, 2000  2000 Newsweek, Inc. Related Articles: Leading Two Lives - 11/10/99 Commander's Wife Arrested in Drug Case - 11/07/99 
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