WASHINGTONCarlos Mario Jimenez-Naranjo, aka “Macaco,” a paramilitary leader and one of Colombia’s most notorious drug traffickers, has been sentenced to 33 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard in Miami for leading an international drug trafficking conspiracy that supported a foreign terrorist organization, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer for the Southern District of Florida.
According to court documents, Jimenez-Naranjo was one of the top leaders of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), a Colombian right-wing paramilitary and drug trafficking organization. The AUC is a U.S. Department of State-designated foreign terrorist organization. From the mid 1990s through 2007, Jimenez-Naranjo led the Bloque Central Bolivar (BCB), a group within the AUC, commanding an estimated 7,000 armed combatants. Jimenez-Naranjo controlled large areas where cocaine was produced, and his organization was responsible for exporting thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia to Central America, Mexico and the United States using seaports and clandestine airstrips. Jimenez-Naranjo was extradited from Colombia to the United States on May 7, 2008, based on a provisional arrest warrant from separate indictments in the District of Columbia and in the Southern District of Florida.
On Jan. 7, 2010, Jimenez-Naranjo pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to charges of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, with intent to import the cocaine into the United States, and to engaging in drug trafficking with the intent to provide something of value to a terrorist organization or narco-terrorism.
On June 21, 2010, Jimenez-Naranjo pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Florida to a superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy to import thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the United States using clandestine airstrips and airplanes, and conspiracy to possess thousands of kilograms of cocaine, which were exported from Colombia onboard maritime vessels subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
The two cases were consolidated in the Southern District of Florida for sentencing. Jimenez-Naranjo was sentenced on May 9, 2011, and the sentencing was unsealed today.
“Mr. Jimenez-Naranjo led the largest paramilitary group within the AUC,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Under his decades-long leadership, the group trafficked thousands of kilograms of illegal narcotics to the United States by land, air and sea – from Colombia, through Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico. Mr. Jimenez-Naranjo’s sentence is a step forward in our efforts to stem the illegal flow of narcotics to the United States and hold dangerous drug traffickers accountable.”
“Jimenez-Naranjo and his organization conspired to import thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the United States using secret airstrips and airplanes,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “Transnational drug trafficking organizations, like this one, threaten the security of our borders and endanger the safety and well-being of our citizens. For this reason, we in South Florida remain determined and focused on the mission of eradicating these dangerous organizations.”
“Investigations such as this clearly define the connection between drugs and terrorism,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Miami Field Office. “International narco-terrorist organizations oppress communities in their home countries through force and corruption, and fund these activities by supplying illegal drugs in our communities. Every time DEA and our federal and international law enforcement partners dismantle a drug trafficking organization that funds or supports terrorism, we remove a serious threat and stop a funding source for terrorist acts.”
“The FBI continues working to eradicate international narco-traffickers, like Carlos Mario Jimenez-Naranjo, who infiltrate our shores and pollute our society with cocaine,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge William Maddalena of the FBI’s Miami Field Office. “I especially want to thank the Colombian National Police for their assistance and cooperation in this case.”
“ICE HSI will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our law enforcement partners to identify and dismantle drug trafficking organizations smuggling large quantities of drugs into the country,” said Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) in Miami. “Those who think that they are safely beyond our reach should think twice. HSI and its partners are vigilant and these criminal actors will be arrested and brought to justice.”
The evidence from the two cases established that Jimenez-Naranjo’s drug trafficking organization processed and manufactured multi-ton quantities of cocaine in Colombia-based laboratories and exported that cocaine from Colombia to Central America, Mexico and elsewhere, some of which was ultimately imported into the United States . During the same time, Jimenez-Naranjo permitted the proceeds of his cocaine production and trafficking activities to be used to facilitate and finance the activities of the AUC. Jimenez-Naranjo’s laboratories processed coca paste and crystallized and converted it into cocaine HCL, producing between 200 and 500 kilograms of cocaine HCL per month at their peak. Jimenez-Naranjo sold this cocaine to transportation specialists, who used fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and go-fast boats, among other forms of transportation, to move the cocaine within Colombia and to export the cocaine to Central America and Mexico. Jimenez-Naranjo also maintained his own airstrips for his narcotic trafficking and charged other traffickers a fee to use his airstrips.
According to court documents, Jimenez-Naranjo also earned money through the BCB’s control of certain areas of Colombia. Specifically, taxes were levied upon other narcotics traffickers who needed passage through BCB-controlled territories. Jimenez-Naranjo used the proceeds from his drug trafficking activities to finance the activities of the AUC and specifically the BCB. Narcotics profits enabled the BCB to purchase weapons and other needed supplies for the BCB narcotics trafficking and other AUC activities. In addition, the cocaine profits were used to pay taxes to other AUC groups who similarly charged the BCB for the passage of the BCB’s narcotics through their territories. The BCB and Jimenez-Naranjo were able to maintain tight control of their territories in Colombia through bribery and intimidation of corrupt members of the Colombia government, including law enforcement, politicians and the military.
Following the demobilization of Jimenez-Naranjo and the BCB in 2005 as part of Colombia’s Justice and Peace Law, Jimenez-Naranjo was incarcerated but continued his cocaine trafficking activities. In conjunction with those activities, Jimenez-Naranjo continued to support individuals and organizations that had engaged in, or were engaging in, terrorism or terrorism-related activity, including individuals who had been part of his armed group but who had not demobilized. Jimenez-Naranjo used co-defendants and others to continue to manage the organization’s drug trafficking operations from prison in Colombia, including collecting taxes from other drug traffickers, some of whom continued their involvement in the AUC .
Under the terms of the to the extradition request, the United States provided assurances to the Government of Colombia that a life sentence would not be sought, but would seek instead a term of years. This assurance is made for all defendants extradited from Colombia to the United States.
The U.S. government expressed its grateful appreciation to the government of Colombia and the Colombia National Police for their assistance and support during the investigations, arrest and extradition.
The District of Columbia charges were obtained by the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS) of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and resulted from an investigation conducted by the DEA Bogota, Colombia, Country Office.
The Southern District of Florida charges were obtained by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami and resulted from a separate joint investigation conducted by the FBI’s Miami Field Division, the DEA’s Miami Field Division and the Miami ICE-HSI office.
These cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Hoffman and Alejandro O. Soto from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern District of Florida, and Trial Attorneys Robert J. Raymond of the Criminal Division’s NDDS, and Glenn C. Alexander, formerly of NDDS and presently in the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. NDDS Judicial Attachés in Bogotá provided crucial support and assistance on this matter. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance. The Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Fusion Center provided investigative and administrative support in this case.