Final Butter-Tub Cocaine Trafficker Sentenced

Published: 10 November 2023

Butter SlicedThe last member of a group that trafficked cocaine-laced butter into the U.S. has received a 10-year prison sentence. (Photo: Gail, Flickr, License)

By Henry Pope

The final defendant in a drug trafficking ring which smuggled its product into the U.S. within tubs of butter was sentenced Wednesday to spend the next decade behind bars.

Amos Christolin, who also used the last name Patizan, 52, of Miami, Florida, received a 10-year prison sentence for his role in a conspiracy to smuggle cocaine from Haiti into the U.S. in butter tubs.

In August 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Miami, Florida inspected a shipment from Haiti bound for Atlanta, Georgia. Inside, they found large quantities of cocaine-laced butter.

Authorities decided to deliver the narcotics to their intended destination and arrest whoever came to claim them. Co-conspirator Vital Joseph was arrested when he attempted to take possession of the butter.

Further investigation revealed that a third member of the operation, Jean Yves-Durogel, was responsible for trafficking the cocaine from Haiti into the United States. Authorities determined that he had smuggled in at least five loads of cocaine-laced butter.

Investigators say Christolin’s group trafficked more than 100 kilograms of cocaine into the United States. Neither the Northern District of Georgia nor the CBP commented on what brand of butter the cocaine was concealed in.

The wholesale price of the narcotics would have exceeded $3 million on the street, investigators said.

Organized crime groups are well-versed in mixing narcotics with seemingly innocuous substances that border authorities would otherwise ignore. Once the drugs slip through the border, they are sent to clandestine labs that can chemically separate the narcotics from whatever it is they are concealed in.

For example, in May 2022, Spanish police dismantled a transnational drug trafficking operation that had tried to smuggle 22 tonnes of Colombian cocaine mixed in with large quantities of sugar. And in June 2023, U.K. authorities seized more than £120 million (US$153.4 million) in cocaine, fused within enough charcoal to fill 800 sacks.

In addition to Christolin’s ten-year sentence, Yves-Durogel and Joseph each received six-year sentences, followed by five years of supervised release.