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Press Release

Foreign National Sentenced for Kidnapping and Assaulting U.S. Army Soldiers in Colombia

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A Colombian national was sentenced today to 48 years and nine months in prison for his role in kidnapping and assaulting two U.S. Army soldiers who were on temporary duty in Bogota, Colombia.

According to court documents, Jeffersson Arango Castellanos, 36, and his co-conspirators targeted, incapacitated, and kidnapped two U.S. soldiers in Bogota to rob them of their valuables. On the evening of March 5, 2020, the two victims went to an entertainment district in Bogota to watch a soccer game. They visited a pub, where Arango Castellanos incapacitated the two victims by putting drugs, including benzodiazepines, in their drinks. Arango Castellanos and one of his co-conspirators then escorted the victims into a waiting car driven by another co-conspirator, kidnapped them, and took their wallets, debit and credit cards and cell phones. Arango Castellanos and his co-conspirators used one victim’s credit card and the other victim’s debit card to make purchases and withdraw money. The two victims lost consciousness until the following day, by which point they had been separated.

In May 2023, Arango was extradited from Colombia to the United States pursuant to a U.S. extradition request. On Jan. 26, he pleaded guilty to kidnapping an internationally protected person, conspiracy to kidnap an internationally protected person, assaulting an internationally protected person, and conspiracy to assault an internationally protected person.  

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida; and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of the FBI Miami Field Office made the announcement.

The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section’s Judicial Attaché Office in Bogota, and the U.S. Marshals Service provided significant assistance in securing the arrest and extradition of the defendant. The United States also thanks Colombian law enforcement authorities for their valuable assistance.

Trial Attorneys Clayton O’Connor and Elizabeth Nielsen of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertila L. Fernandez for the Southern District of Florida prosecuted the case.

Updated May 30, 2024

Press Release Number: 24-687