An employee of Ethan Allan, where Castrillón allegedly purchased thousands of dollars' worth of furniture, told investigators that "Mr. Castrillón was present at the delivery of the furniture accessories. Also present was a man introduced to me as Mr. Barcos. Several laptop computers and other electronic equipment were operating on the dining room table. Also, several ocean charts were spread on the dining room table. Mr. Barcos spoke of satellite tracking of fish based on water temperature."
The manager of Wyland Gallery at Seaport Village, which sells photographs of whales and other sea life, as well as custom-built bronze furniture with nautical themes, described Castrillón's visit to the store, accompanied by three women. "All four individuals were very well dressed. Mr. Castrillón wore an Armani business suit, prescription glasses hanging by a chain around his neck, and was approximately 5´7" to 5´8" with a medium build."
According to the account, Castrillón decided to purchase a "custom-made 60-inch dolphin dining room table" for $85,000, a "Meeting of the Minds" dining room table for $26,000, an "Above and Below Dolphins" coffee table for $15,188, and an oil painting "valued at $20,000." At the Whitt/Krause Gallery, also in Seaport Village, Castrillón stopped by and picked up a painting entitled "Enchanted Sea" by an artist named Joslin for $5000. According to another government affidavit, Castrillón had the shipping invoice for the furniture in his wallet at the time of his arrest in Panama.
None of this testimony persuades Rodríguez-López's attorney Hoyt, who points to the fact that checks drawn on his client's bank account were used to make payments on the condo. "We've never had the money to be able to go and actually depose the people who they say were the furniture salespeople," Hoyt adds. "And where's the art? I don't know that either. We've been barred. We never saw the inside of the unit. I've never been in it, and I don't know how it was furnished. So you have these incredible allegations that the furniture was purchased by Castrillón using that address, but we never really know if it was in that room. It was just that it was purchased and put there, but we never saw anything."
During her opening presentation to the jury, prosecutor Leah Bussell offered a preview of the government's case, describing Castrillón as "a transportation coordinator for the Cali cartel in Colombia. His job was to plan and carry out the transportation of cocaine from Colombia aboard ships and other vessels. Now, it's a lot of responsibility to transport millions and millions of dollars' worth of cocaine. You're talking about tons and tons of cocaine."
Bussell told the jury that they would hear from "a convicted cocaine transporter by the name of Renaldo Ruíz who worked directly for José Castrillón Henao in bringing in cocaine into the United States." She said Ruíz would testify about shiploads of drugs he knew about. "The first one he's going to tell you about is the vessel named the Phaedrus, the second is the Dolphin, and the third is the Swiftsure. He will tell you that the first two vessels, the Phaedrus and the Dolphin, successfully came into the United States with the delivery of 2300 kilos of cocaine very close here to San Diego. The third vessel, the Swiftsure, was intercepted and resulted in his arrest.
"Now, you're going to hear about numerous boatloads of cocaine that were seized between 1991 and 1996, but for the boatloads that were seized, many, many more got through. Now, one of the responsibilities of a cocaine transporter is to hire a number of people. You can't do it all by yourself when you're moving tons and tons of cocaine. You need people to acquire a boat. You need people to outfit boats. You need a boat captain, and you need somebody to physically move the cocaine. You need someone to coordinate the transshipments of the cocaine from site to site.
"Now, the people that José Castrillón Henao had to hire had to be loyal and they had to be trustworthy. He used -- and you're going to hear about them -- Colombian family members. You're going to hear about Fred Esvindo Barcos, his nephew, and Maria Del Pilar Ivey, his niece. He has a high degree of control over these family members because they still have family in Colombia.
"He also hired Manuel Rodríguez-López. The role of Manuel Rodríguez-López was to help arrange mid-ocean pickups of cocaine and transport it aboard these fishing vessels to other sites to be broken down and further transported into the United States. The front of a fishing company is the perfect front to move cocaine from Colombia to Panama and into the United States. What better reason to be on the ocean picking up bales of cocaine than to say you're fishing? The front of Pesquera Carimar, which was the [Rodríguez-López] business, was also a money-laundering front. What better way to hide your money than to try to funnel it through a fishing company?"
Bussell told the jury that Rodríguez-López "held himself out as a ship's captain, but you're going to hear that the fishing community is very small, and until about six or seven years ago, Manuel Rodríguez-López was not a known entity in either the La Paz or Ensenada area at all. He came out of nowhere and spent millions of dollars buying ships and outfitting ships and turning these fishing vessels into the Cadillacs of the fishing fleets. No, you're not going to hear from Manuel Rodríguez-López. He's sitting in prison in La Paz, Mexico.
"Now, you have to ask yourself why you aren't hearing from him, since you know he's indicted here. He could come here to face that indictment. No, he wants you to try to accept his story that he's but a poor fisherman and give him this condo. You're going to hear from special DEA agents Jim Nims and Kelly Rae, who met with Manuel Rodríguez-López in prison in La Paz, and you're going to hear how Manuel Rodríguez-López subsequently called them on the phone and offered to cooperate with the U.S. government against the Arellano-Félix brothers. You'll hear that from the agents themselves."