“Loco Barrera” Worked With Two Colombian Terrorist Organizations to Manufacture and Distribute Thousands of Kilograms of Cocaine Per Year, and Laundered Tens of Millions of Dollars in Drug Proceeds
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Robert L. Capers, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Wifredo A. Ferrer, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, announced that DANIEL BARRERA BARRERA, also known as “Loco Barrera,” a citizen of Colombia, was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 35 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $10,000,000 by U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods for his role in conspiring to distribute and manufacture cocaine knowing that it would be imported into the United States. BARRERA was also sentenced by Judge Woods on one count of conspiring to launder money, as charged in a Superseding Indictment filed in the Eastern District of New York, and on one count of conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and one count of conspiring to manufacture and distribute cocaine knowing that it would be unlawfully imported into the United States, as charged in a Superseding Indictment filed in the Southern District of Florida.
For decades, BARRERA manufactured hundreds of tons of cocaine annually in Colombia and trafficked it to various parts of the world, including the United States, and laundered tens of millions of dollars in proceeds from that narcotics trafficking activity. In March 2010, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated BARRERA as a “Special Designated Narcotics Trafficker,” pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. BARRERA was arrested in Venezuela on September 18, 2012. Thereafter, he was sent to Colombia, from where the United States sought and obtained BARRERA’s extradition. BARRERA was extradited from Colombia to the Southern District of New York on July 9, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The man Colombian authorities have called ‘the last of the great kingpins,’ now stands convicted and sentenced in an American court of law. For his decades-long trafficking of more than 720 tons of cocaine, creating a narcotics pipeline from Colombia to four different continents, Daniel Barrera Barrera will spend the next 35 years in federal custody. Thanks to the outstanding agents of the DEA and HSI, this international drug kingpin’s reign is over.”
U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers said: “The sentencing of Daniel ‘Loco’ Barrera Barrera ends his reign as the leader of a violent and ruthless organization who partnered with powerful cartels and terrorist organizations. The dedicated efforts of our law enforcement partners have destroyed Barrera’s empire and today’s sentence sends a powerful message to narcotics traffickers around the world and domestically that we are committed to prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law.”
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer said: “Today’s sentencing closes the chapter on Barrerra’s reign as of one of the largest cocaine traffickers in history. Barrera’s violent drug trafficking organization infected the international community. By joining forces, law enforcement authorities successfully removed Barrera from power and gave communities back to their law abiding citizens.”
As alleged in the indictments filed in the Southern District of New York, the Eastern District of New York, and the Southern District of Florida, statements made at court proceedings including today’s sentencing, and other information in the public record:
From 1998 until 2010, BARRERA ran a cocaine manufacturing and trafficking syndicate out of Colombia. BARRERA purchased the raw cocaine base or paste from the designated terrorist group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (the “FARC”). The FARC, which has been dedicated to the violent overthrow of the democratically elected Government of Colombia, has been the world’s largest supplier of cocaine and has engaged in bombings, massacres, kidnappings, and other acts of violence within Colombia.
After purchasing the raw cocaine base from the FARC, BARRERA converted the raw cocaine into powder at laboratories he owned and operated in an area of Colombia controlled by the since demobilized terrorist group, Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (the “AUC”). For years, the AUC’s main political objective was to defeat the FARC in armed conflict, and it financed its terrorist activities through the proceeds of cocaine trafficking in AUC-controlled regions of Colombia. At the time of BARRERA’s criminal conduct, the FARC and the AUC were both designated by the U.S. Department of State as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
After processing the cocaine powder in his laboratories, BARRERA arranged for the shipment and transportation of the cocaine powder to locations on four continents, including the United States. Although BARRERA purchased raw materials for cocaine production from the FARC, he was able to maintain his network of cocaine-processing laboratories in AUC-controlled territory, in part by paying monthly “taxes” to the AUC. The fees BARRERA paid to the AUC also allowed him to move the processed cocaine safely through and out of Colombia.
BARRERA additionally protected his massive cocaine shipments by regularly directing acts of violence and intimidation, including ordering many murders. In order to support this violent protection of his drug trafficking, BARRERA traded cocaine for hundreds of AK-47 rifles to arm his security forces and take control of the rural areas of Colombia where his drug laboratories were located.
Each month, BARRERA processed approximately 5,000 kilograms of raw cocaine base into about the same amount of cocaine powder, resulting in approximately 60,000 kilograms of cocaine annually and approximately 720,000 kilograms during the course of the conspiracy. In total, BARRERA reaped tens of millions of dollars of profits from cocaine trafficking, which he laundered through illicit means.
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In addition to the prison sentence, BARRERA, 48, was sentenced to five years of supervised release. The Court further ordered BARRERA to pay a $10,000,000 fine.
The sentencing of BARRERA is the result of an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) and Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”). The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
Mr. Bharara, Mr. Capers, and Mr. Ferrer praised the outstanding work of the OCDETF, working in cooperation with HSI New York’s El Dorado Task Force, the DEA’s Bogota Country Office, the DEA’s Caracas Country Office, the DEA’s Miami Field Division, the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force – which comprises agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City Police Department, and the New York State Police – and HSI Bogota. Mr. Bharara, Mr. Capers, and Mr. Ferrer also thanked the Colombian National Police, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for their assistance in this prosecution.
The Southern District of New York case is being handled by that office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit, with Assistant United States Attorney Andrea Surratt in charge of the prosecution. The Eastern District of New York case is being handled by that office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit, with Assistant United States Attorney Soumya Dayananda in charge of the prosecution. The Southern District of Florida case is being handled by that office’s Narcotics Unit, with Assistant United States Attorney Adam Fels in charge of the prosecution.
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