Leader of Colombian Drug Trafficking Organization and Associate Found Guilty of Conspiring to Import Multiple Tons of Cocaine into the United States
DEC 09 -- WASHINGTON – Christian Fernando Borda and Alvaro Alvaran-Velez, two narcotics traffickers aligned with the Autodefenses Unidas de Colombia (AUC), were found guilty today in U.S. District Court of conspiring to import ton-quantities of cocaine into the United States, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. The AUC is a Colombian paramilitary group designated by the U.S. Department of State as a foreign terrorist organization.
The guilty verdicts returned today follow a seven-week trial before U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in the District of Columbia. Borda, 46, and Alvaran-Velez, 56, who are Colombian nationals, were extradited from Colombia to the United States on Oct. 29, 2009, and trial began with jury selection on Oct. 21, 2010. Following two days of deliberations, the jury found Borda and Alvaran-Velez guilty of one count of conspiring to distribute cocaine with the knowledge and intent that it would be imported into the United States.
"These drug traffickers were responsible for facilitating the delivery of tons of cocaine from Colombia into the United States, and today 12 U.S. jurors found them guilty," said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. "Over the course of many years, the United States and Colombia have worked together to bring to justice in both countries the leaders and associates of these dangerous organizations, and today marks another milestone in that continued effort."
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, between February 2005 and March 16, 2007, Borda and Alvaran-Velez were members of a major narcotics trafficking organization based in Colombia that transported multi-ton quantities of cocaine from Colombia to the United States via Mexico.
Borda, as the leader of this drug trafficking organization, obtained large amounts of cocaine from Colombian paramilitary sources and directed others in their drug trafficking activities. Alvaran-Velez, an associate of Borda, coordinated and facilitated shipments of cocaine through his Mexico contacts.
According to court documents and trial evidence, one of their shipments of cocaine in 2005 involved approximately 1,500 kilograms of cocaine that was smuggled in drums of palm oil on a ship departing from the north coast of Colombia. Additional cocaine shipments in 2005 and 2006 involved quantities of more than 3,000 kilograms per shipment.
The evidence at trial included numerous recorded conversations from in-person meetings and telephone calls, as well as surveillance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), including photos and videos. Additional evidence revealed shipments of millions of dollars of narcotics-related proceeds, all in U.S. currency, to Borda in Colombia via Monterrey, Mexico, and Mexico City.
Borda and Alvaran-Velez are scheduled to be sentenced on April 28, 2011. The conspiracy charge carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum penalty of life in prison, as well as a fine of up to $4 million. Borda has a prior felony narcotics conviction and thus faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison. As part of its extradition requests, the United States provided assurances that it will not seek a life sentence for the defendants, but instead will ask for a prison term of years.
This case was investigated by the DEA’s Miami and Houston Field Divisions, with assistance from DEA’s Cartagena and Bogota, Colombia, and Mexico City and Guadalajara, Mexico, country offices. The U.S. Coast Guard provided valuable additional investigative assistance. The investigation also involved close cooperation with the Colombian National Police and the Colombian Fiscalia.