Press Releases

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Arrest Of Alleged Colombian Narcotics Trafficker

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday May 25, 2012

Defendant Allegedly Transported Tons of Cocaine by Airplane

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Wilbert L. Plummer, Acting Special-Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), today announced the arrest of JOSE EVARISTO LINARES CASTILLO in Colombia, on charges that he conspired to possess with intent to distribute cocaine on board an aircraft registered in the United States, and to import cocaine into the United States.  LINARES CASTILLO, who was arrested today by Colombian authorities, has been designated by the Department of Justice as a Consolidated Priority Organization Target (“CPOT”), a designation given to the most significant narcotics traffickers in the world.  

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Today’s arrest of Jose Evaristo Linares Castillo, an alleged narcotics kingpin, is the latest important step in our fight against the flow of illegal drugs into the United States and to bring those responsible to justice.  It is also another example of how our strong domestic and international law enforcement partnerships aid us in this battle.” 

Acting DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Wilbert L. Plummer said: “This arrest is a significant success for international, federal, state and local law enforcement.  Not only did we target and arrest the source of supply for tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine but we are continuing to pursue drug trafficking organizations throughout the world.” 

The following allegations are based on the Indictment which was previously unsealed in Manhattan federal court:

From 2006 through 2011, LINARES CASTILLO arranged for the transportation of cocaine loads via air transport from Venezuela to Honduras.  These airplanes carried up to 1,000 kilograms of cocaine per trip.  Also in furtherance of the charged conspiracy, and in connection with one narcotics transaction, LINARES CASTILLO caused the delivery of $250,000 in cash.

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The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Richard J. Sullivan.  The indictment charges LINARES CASTILLO, 47, who is a citizen of Colombia, with participating in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine on board an aircraft owned by a United States citizen or registered in the United States, to import cocaine, and to distribute cocaine knowing and intending it would be imported into the United States.  If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum term of life in prison and a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, the Special Operations Division of the DEA, the DEA’s Bogota Country Office, and the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia.  Mr. Bharara also thanked the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for their ongoing assistance.

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward Y. Kim, Michael D. Lockard, and Jason B. Smith are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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