Lorenzo Solomon, 28, of Baltimore, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt to 188 months in prison June 24 in connection with a conspiracy to import cocaine from St. Vincent and distribute it in Maryland, according to an announcement by U. S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and other officials.

Solomon’s sentence was enhanced after officials determined that the drug dealer was the leader of the conspiracy and that he obstructed justice by attempting to intimidate witnesses to prevent them from testifying against him.

According to the evidence presented at Solomon’s four-day trial, between April and December 2010, Solomon arranged with his co-conspirators in St. Vincent to send him packages containing up to a kilogram of cocaine at a time hidden in the soles of flip-flops. The shoes were then mailed to his home and the addresses of others in Maryland, the statement said.

To pay for the drugs, witnesses testified that Solomon arranged to have several friends and family members send large amounts of cash via Western Union and Moneygram, most frequently in $2,000 increments, which Solomon provided them. According to court documents, more than 17 individuals sent a total of $117,270 from the U.S. to St. Vincent between April and November 2010.

According to trial testimony, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, on November 26, 2010, intercepted a package of the cocaine-filled shoes that were earmarked for Solomon, but were addressed to one of his friends who lives in Takoma Park. Investigators then tried to deliver the package on Dec. 6, 2010, but got no response. They left a note on the door announcing the package and provided a number for the person to arrange delivery. At Solomon’s direction, delivery of the package was arranged for the next day. After the package was delivered, phone records show that a call was placed to Solomon to let him know of the delivery. A short time later, HSI agents executed a search warrant, recovering the drugs. Co-conspirator Ronnie George was also arrested after he arrived to pick up the package for Solomon.

Solomon left the area, eventually traveling to St. Vincent, where, in February 2011, he filed paperwork with the St. Vincent government to form a business, apparently in an effort to create a cover story as to why he had sent so much money to St. Vincent. Solomon returned to the United States in March 2011. On April 6, 2011, George and Solomon were indicted on drug conspiracy charges. George was arrested and pleaded guilty, but Solomon was not located until after George’s sentencing in March 2012.

According to witness testimony, Solomon pressed a woman witness to change her story to keep him from being implicated in the drug conspiracy. Some witnesses told authorities they or members of their families had been threatened. Because of the threats, Solomon was jailed on the first day of the trial, March 12, where he remains.

George, 27, of Owings Mills, pled guilty and received one year and one day, the statement said.