Acting Assistant Attorney General MATTHEW FRIEDRICH of
the Criminal Division, Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”)
Acting Administrator MICHELLE LEONHART and U.S. Attorneys MICHAEL
J. GARCIA of the Southern District of New York and BENTON J.
CAMPBELL of the Eastern District of New York announced that JUAN
CARLOS RAMIREZ-ABADIA, a/k/a “Chupeta,” one of the leaders of
Colombia’s most powerful cartel, known as the “Norte Valle
Cartel” (“NVC”), was extradited today to face federal charges in
the District of Columbia and the Eastern District of New York.
RAMIREZ-ABADIA was arrested by the Brazilian Federal
Police in August 2007.
At the time, the U.S. State Department
was offering an award of up to $5 million for information leading
to RAMIREZ-ABADIA’s capture. RAMIREZ-ABADIA was subsequently
convicted on Brazilian charges in a Brazilian court and sentenced
to serve 30 years in prison. This week the Brazilian Government
authorized the defendant’s extradition to the United States where
RAMIREZ-ABADIA will face federal murder, drug trafficking and
money laundering charges in the Eastern District of New York and
will face federal drug trafficking and racketeering charges in
the District of Columbia.
The NVC operated principally in the Norte Valle del
Cauca region of Colombia and is allegedly responsible for
exporting more than 500 metric tons of cocaine worth more than
$10 billion from Colombia to the United States, with RAMIREZABADIA
having controlled a large percentage of those drug
RAMIREZ-ABADIA is alleged to have employed hundreds of
individuals who worked for him in various “offices,” or crews,
including: the “Drug Offices,” which allegedly manufactured,
transported and exported multi-ton loads of cocaine from Colombia
to Mexico, ultimately destined for the United States; the “Money
Laundering Offices,” which allegedly employed dozens of money
launderers, money couriers, accountants and individuals who
operated multimillion dollar “coletas,” or money stash houses;
the “Corruption Offices,” which allegedly were responsible for
paying bribes to police and public officials in exchange for
information about law enforcement actions against members of the
Norte Valle Cartel; and the “Offices of the Sicarios,” or hitmen,
which allegedly employed dozens of gunmen who carried out
hundreds of murders, tortures, kidnappings and violent
collections of drug debts at the direction of RAMIREZ-ABADIA. To
date, law enforcement officers in the United States, Mexico and
Colombia have seized more than 48,000 pounds of cocaine from the
Norte Valle Cartel.
In addition, DEA agents in Brazil and
Colombia, working with their local counterparts in law
enforcement, have assisted in the forfeiture of hundreds of
millions of dollars of RAMIREZ-ABADIA’s foreign assets,
representing the illegal proceeds of the massive drug operation.
“The Norte Valle Cartel is a sophisticated and
dangerous cocaine trafficking organization that, for almost two
decades, has smuggled more than $10 billion worth of cocaine from
Colombia to the United States,” said U.S. Attorney MICHAEL J.
GARCIA. “As one of its leaders, RAMIREZ-ABADIA oversaw the
complex drug trafficking operation and use of violence to
preserve the Cartel’s power and control.”
“For years, RAMIREZ-ABADIA and his organization made
billions of dollars by exporting misery to the United States
through drug trafficking and murder,” stated U.S. Attorney BENTON
J. CAMPBELL. “His illegal operation included drug manufacturers,
couriers, money launderers and accountants, and he and his
cohorts resorted to bribery, kidnapping, torture, and even murder
to further their goal of making as much money as possible. Now,
he will be held to account in a U.S. court of law.”
“Today, one of the most violent and prolific narcotics
traffickers in the hemisphere has been extradited to the United
States to be held accountable for his crimes. RAMIREZ-ABADIA, a
long-time drug kingpin, now faces justice in a U.S. court of
law,” said DEA Acting Administrator MICHELE M. LEONHART. “DEA and
our law enforcement partners in Brazil and Colombia successfully
targeted and attacked RAMIREZ-ABADIA’s assets, having seized more
than $700 million in cash and assets from his organization, which
put him on the run. DEA will continue to cripple drug kingpins by
depriving them of their drug profits and operating funds.”
RAMIREZ-ABADIA was initially indicted on drug
trafficking charges in the Eastern District of New York in 1994.
On Dec. 21, 2004, the grand jury returned a new indictment
charging RAMIREZ-ABADIA with drug trafficking. On June 27 and
Aug. 29, 2007, the grand jury returned superseding indictments
charging RAMIREZ-ABADIA with: ordering a hit team to shoot and
kill Vladimir Biegelman, an employee of RAMIREZ-ABADIA’s drug
organization in Queens, N.Y., on Dec. 2, 1993; overseeing a
continuing criminal enterprise; international drug trafficking;
and conspiring to launder the proceeds of his drug empire.
On March 11, 2004, a federal grand jury in the District
of Columbia indicted RAMIREZ-ABADIA and eight other Norte Valle
Cartel leaders on drug trafficking and racketeering charges, and
a superseding indictment was returned on April 29, 2004. The
superseding indictment alleges, among other things, that the NVC
and its members used violence and brutality to further their
goals, including routinely murdering rivals, individuals who
failed to pay for drugs and NVC members and associates whose
loyalty was suspect. In approximately January 2004, RAMIREZABADIA
is alleged to have shot and killed Luis Alfonse Ocampo-
Fomeque, a/k/a “Tocayo Patino,” an NVC member, based on RAMIREZABADIA’s
suspicion that Ocampo-Fomeque was working as an
informant for the DEA.
The District of Columbia case resulted from an
investigation led by the U.S Attorney’s Office in the Southern
District of New York, with cooperation and support from the U.S.
Attorneys’ Offices in the Eastern District of New York and the
Southern District of Florida, as well as the Criminal Division’s
Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section. The U.S. Attorney’s Office
for the Southern District of New York is responsible for
prosecuting RAMIREZ-ABADIA in the District of Columbia. In
addition, the DEA worked with law enforcement in Colombia, Brazil
and in the United States in these investigations.
Both the Eastern District of New York and District of
Columbia indictments contain forfeiture allegations. The
District of Columbia superseding indictment requires RAMIREZABADIA
to forfeit $10 billion.
Assistant United States Attorneys REBECCA MONCKRICIGLIANO
and MARSHALL CAMP are in charge of the prosecution of
the District of Columbia case.
The charges contained in the indictments are merely
accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and
until proven guilty.