BALTIMORE — As part of his secret plea agreement with Carroll County prosecutors, Henry Hernandez provided county, state and federal drug officials with inside information on cocaine trafficking in Maryland and Florida.
But that information -- called "significant" by Hernandez's immigration attorney -- may not be enough to keep him from being deportedback to Colombia.
The Colombian national pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy charges in December to settle Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman's drug kingpin case against him.
He was given a 10-year suspended sentence Feb. 20 by Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr.
Details ofthat agreement, however, were sealed by Burns.
It wasn't until Hernandez's initial deportation hearing at Immigration Court here yesterday morning that some aspects of the deal became known.
"My client has cooperated with customs officials, U.S. officials, state officials and has provided some significant information
into the drug trade in Carroll County," Ronald Kurland, Hernandez's immigration attorney, told Immigration Judge John F. Gossart during a brief conferenceat the bench.
Kurland asked for -- and was granted -- a two-week postponment of deportation proceedings.
Hernandez was among the first three people charged under the state's drug kingpin law in Carroll.
He, his brother, Fernando, and Fernando's wife, Bonnie, were indicted last January on the drug kingpin charges, charges that were dropped after all three entered into plea agreements.
While FernandoHernandez was sentenced to 14 years in state prison and his wife wasgiven a three-year suspended sentence, Henry Hernandez was allowed to return to Miami, where he had lived for 11 years. He was to be on probation while in South Florida.
He was arrested by immigration officials in Carroll in early March, two weeks after Burns sentenced him, and taken to the Wicomico County Detention Center, where he remains.
Apparently, officials acknowledge, Hernandez was cooperating with immigration and drug officials in Miami, but immigration officialshere were unaware of that cooperation.
Gossart, the immigration judge, told an INS attorney that the agency may "want to rethink" its position on pursuing Hernandez's deportation.
The INS must give ananswer to Gossart by April 21.
Under U.S. law, any foreigner convicted of a drug crime is sub
ject to deportation.
Even though he cooperated with police and prosecutors, the guilty plea to the drugconspiracy charge makes the legal resident alien subject to being sent back to Colombia.
However, Hernandez's Carroll public defender,Judson K. Larrimore, said in a Monday court filing that deportation "is contrary to the intent, purpose, spirit and goals of the plea agreement" and that it "is a violation of the plea agreement."
In thefiling, Larrimore asks Burns to modify the sentence resulting from the plea agreement within the next week.
The plea agreement detailsthe extent of Hernandez's cooperation with authorities, but neither prosecutors nor Hernandez's lawyers would elaborate on the deal.
Larrimore would neither confirm nor deny Kurland's statement to the judge, and Hickman was not willing to comment extensively on Hernandez's involvement with law enforcement officials.
"Attorneys can say all they want," Hickman said.
"But my feeling is that he has abusedhis privilege to live in the United States and he should be deported."