Southern District of New York

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, JOHN P. GILBRIDE, the Special
Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug
Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), and JAMES T. HAYES, JR., the
Special Agent-in-Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement Office of Homeland Security Investigations in New
York (“ICE HSI”), announced the extradition of EDER PEDRAZA-PENA,
a/k/a “Don Ramon”, on charges that he conspired to import cocaine
into the United States and to engage in maritime narcotics
smuggling. PEDRAZA-PENA, 45, a citizen of Colombia and former
commander in a right-wing Colombian paramilitary drug
organization, arrived in the United States yesterday and will
make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge FRANK
MAAS later today. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge
Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: “As we have
charged, Pedraza-Pena was a ringleader of one of the most vicious
and deadly narco-terrorist groups in South America. He
bankrolled his organization, in part, by allegedly smuggling
their poison into the United States. Today’s extradition
demonstrates once again that we will work seamlessly with our law
enforcement partners both here and around the world to thwart
those who are exporting their illegal trade and to prosecute them
to the full extent of the law.”
DEA Special Agent-in-Charge JOHN P. GILBRIDE said:
“Eder Pedraza-Pena is charged with smuggling tons of cocaine into
the United States and today he will face the consequences of his
illegal enterprise. Time and time again, law enforcement
investigates and identifies those individuals behind the scenes
who are responsible for organizing illegal actions such as drug
trafficking. This extradition is a statement for international,
local, state and federal law enforcement that we will not
tolerate drug trafficking in our communities and will continue to
fully identify and investigate those who make millions off the
sale of poison.”
ICE HSI Special Agent-in-Charge JAMES T. HAYES, JR.
said: “This investigation shows ICE’s resolve to pursue those who
think they can ignore our nation’s drug smuggling laws. We will
continue to aggressively investigate those involved in illicit
drug activity to ensure that they face justice.”
According to the Indictment and documents filed in the
extradition proceedings:
From 1999 through March 2009, PEDRAZA-PENA served as a
Commander in a right-wing paramilitary drug organization and
terrorist group, then called the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia
(the “AUC”) and now known as Bandas Criminales Emergentes, or
BACRIMS. For years, the AUC’s main political objective has been
to defeat the left-wing Colombian terrorist group Fuerzas Armadas
Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia, or “FARC”). The AUC, which is organized in individual
bloques that control separate areas of Colombia, financed its
terrorist activities through the proceeds of cocaine trafficking
in AUC-controlled regions. PEDRAZA-PENA collected taxes from
narcotics traffickers who transported cocaine through the bloque
he controlled.
PEDRAZA-PENA also trafficked in cocaine, some of which
was destined for Central America, Mexico, and ultimately the
United States. In January 2009, PEDRAZA-PENA arranged for a
shipment of over 2,000 kilograms of cocaine that was later seized
by U.S. Coast Guard officers in international waters off the
coast of Jamaica. PEDRAZA-PENA was arrested by Colombian
authorities on October 11, 2009.
* * *
PEDRAZA-PENA is charged with one count of conspiracy to
import cocaine into the United States and one count of conspiracy
to possess cocaine with intent to distribute while on board a
vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. He
faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory
minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Mr. BHARARA praised the outstanding investigative work
of the DEA’s Cartagena Resident Office; the New York Organized
Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force (which is comprised of agents
and officers of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the New
York City Police Department, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service
Criminal Investigation Division, the Department of Homeland
Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the
Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the New York State Police);
and the U.S. Coast Guard. Mr. BHARARA also thanked the Colombian
National Police and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of
International Affairs for their ongoing assistance.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and
International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys JOCELYN
STRAUBER and JASON SMITH are in charge of the prosecution.
The charge and allegations contained in the Indictment
are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent
unless and until proven guilty.
10-361 ###

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