News and Press Releases

DRUG ENFORCER CONVICTED

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2011

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Scott A. Gilbert, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced that on Friday, May 27, 2011, following a one-month trial before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga, a jury convicted Oscar Varela Garcia, a/k/a "Omar Garcia Varela," a/k/a “Capachivo,” in a prosecution that arose out of the defendant’s role as the leader of the team of hitmen and enforcers for one-time Norte Valle Cartel kingpin and former FBI top-ten fugitive Diego Montoya Sanchez, a/k/a “Don Diego.”

Varela Garcia was convicted of all seven counts charged against him in the sixth superseding indictment. Specifically, Varela Garcia was convicted of the following offenses:

• Count 1: conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 963.

• Count 2: conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846.

• Count 3: conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h).

• Count 9: conspiracy to obstruct justice, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

• Count 10: obstruction of justice by murder, in violation of Title 18,United States Code, Sections 1503 and 1111.

• Count 11: conspiracy to commit murder with the intent to retaliate against the victim for providing information to a law enforcement officer relevant to the commission or possible commission of a federal offense, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1513 and 1111.

• Count 12: murder with the intent to retaliate against the victim for providing information to a law enforcement officer relevant to the commission or possible commission of a federal offense in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1513 and 1111.

This prosecution arises out of Operation Resurrection, an FBI investigation initiated in the late 1990s that targeted leaders of Colombia's Norte Valle Cartel. Following the decline of the Cali Cartel in the mid-1990s, the Norte Valle Cartel emerged to become Colombia's most prolific cocaine trafficking cartel. Based upon FBI estimates, at its peak the Norte Valle Cartel was responsible for 60 percent of the cocaine exported from Colombia to the United States.

Diego Montoya Sanchez led his organization starting in the mid-1980s. By the late 1990s, Montoya Sanchez had become one of the Norte Valle Cartel's two leading kingpins, along with rival Wilber Varela.

The evidence presented at trial showed that starting in the early 1990s, defendant Oscar Varela Garcia oversaw a large group of enforcers and hitmen who relied upon violence to enforce the will of the Montoya organization upon others in the Colombian cocaine underworld. The defendant's role in this regard included overseeing the kidnapping of traffickers and their family members to collect debts owed to the Montoya organization; the killing of traffickers believed to have stolen cocaine from the Montoya organization; the torturing and killing of suspected informants and witnesses; and the killing of members of the organization of Wilber Varela over the course a two-year war between the organizations that lasted from fall 2003 until fall 2005.

Counts 9-12 of the sixth superseding indictment arose out of the brutal August 2003 torture and murder of a U.S. government informant who at the time had been cooperating against the Montoya organization. The informant was lured to a farm in Jamundi, Colombia, a town just south of Cali. Organization operatives tortured the victim for several hours in an attempt to compel the victim to disclose what he had revealed to U.S. agents. Then, they asphyxiated the victim to death, dismembered his body, and disposed of his remains in a nearby river.

The evidence at trial showed that the defendant facilitated the torture and murder by suggesting several key operatives to include in the operation, as well as by suggesting a method to force the victim to talk. The method suggested by the defendant involved using a baseball bat to break the victim's legs and then squeezing the impacted area, a method that the defendant recommended would bring the victim intense pain and force him to talk.

Defendant Varela Garcia was captured by Colombian authorities in July 2008 and was extradited to the United States in March 2010. Following the return of the jury's verdict, Judge Altonaga set the sentencing of defendant Varela Garcia for August 18, 2011, at 9:00 a.m.

Defendant Varela Garcia is the third individual in this prosecution to be convicted of the informant's murder. On August 11, 2009, Diego Montoya Sanchez pled guilty to conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and obstruction of justice by murder. He was subsequently sentenced to a 45-year term of imprisonment. On January 23, 2009, the Montoya Sanchez's brother, Eugenio Montoya Sanchez, pled guilty to conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and obstruction of justice by murder. He was subsequently sentenced to a 30-year term of imprisonment.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “This verdict highlights that we continue to fight the danger posed by international narcotics trafficking and the terrible violence associated with it.”

“This case shows the FBI’s commitment to work with our law enforcement partners to get rid of international narco-traffickers who poison our society with cocaine,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Scott A. Gilbert.

U.S. Attorney Ferrer commended the FBI for their dedication and commitment to this over decade-long investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Davis.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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