Seventeen Alleged Leaders and Associates of Clan Usuga Indicted in Brooklyn and Miami as Part of Coordinated Strike Against Colombia’s Largest and Most Influential Drug Trafficking and Armed BACRIM Criminal Group
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Acting U.S. Attorney Kelly T. Currie of the Eastern District of New York and Regional Director Jay Bergman of the Andean Region of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced today the unsealing of five indictments in U.S. federal courts in Brooklyn, New York, and Miami charging 17 alleged leaders and associates of Colombia’s largest and most influential BACRIM (banda criminal or criminal group), Clan Usuga (formerly referred to as Los Urabeños). The alleged leaders and other high-ranking members of Clan Usuga are charged with operating continuing criminal enterprises, participating in international cocaine trafficking conspiracies and using firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes. Clan Usuga and many of its principal leaders have been previously designated by the President of the United States and the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control as specially designated narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. The Department of State has posted a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of alleged Clan Usuga principal leader Dairo Antonio Usuga David, also known as Otoniel.
“The cases referenced today demonstrate that the U.S. government, in collaboration with our international law enforcement partners, continues to successfully combat leaders and associates of BACRIM criminal enterprises that seek to supply narcotics to the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “Together, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Colombian authorities strive to systematically dismantle one BACRIM structure after another and eliminate the threat they pose to our communities.”
“The indictments announced today are the result of a sweeping national and international effort to stem the flow of drugs across the world and into our communities,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Currie. “We stand united with our partners in Colombia in our unwavering commitment to root out the leaders of drug trafficking criminal enterprises wherever they may be found.”
U.S. Attorney Ferrer and Acting U.S. Attorney Currie extended their grateful appreciation to the DEA’s New York Field Division, Miami Field Division and the Bogotá Country Office as well as the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) New York El Dorado Task Force and the Colombian National Police, the agencies responsible for leading the investigations. Mr. Ferrer and Mr. Currie also expressed their gratitude for the invaluable assistance provided by the Colombian Fiscalia General and the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.
“These indictments are the culmination of years of work and far too often heartfelt sacrifice by the brave men and women of the Colombian National Police and the Office of the Prosecutor General of Colombia,” said DEA Regional Director Bergman. “These indictments represent the United States’ steadfast bilateral commitment to conclusively dismantle what is the largest and arguably the last of the nationally structured criminal bands in Colombia.”
“Today’s indictments illustrate our commitment, along with our international law enforcement partners to disrupt a criminal network responsible for smuggling tons of cocaine into the United States,” said Country Attaché Luis Sierra of ICE-HSI in Colombia. “HSI will continue to use its unique customs authorities to attack and dismantle these types of organizations and will aggressively pursue leads, regardless of where that information may lead us.”
Six of the Clan Usuga leaders were charged in both Brooklyn and Miami. Dairo Antonio Usuga-David aka “Otoniel,” “Mao,” “Gallo,” and “Mauricio-Gallo,” is alleged to be the principal leader of CLAN USUGA. Roberto Vargas Gutierrez aka “Gavilan,” Carlos Alberto Moreno Turberquia aka “Nicolas,” Aristides Manuel Mesa Paez aka “El Indio,” and Cesar Daniel Anaya Martinez aka “Tierra,” are alleged commanders of Clan Usuga responsible for collecting drug taxes, managing armed combatants and maintaining control over specific territorial areas within Colombia. Also charged in Brooklyn and Miami is an alleged manager of Clan Usuga, Ramiro Caro Pineda aka “Nolasco,” who was in charge of collecting drug taxes, coordinating drug shipments and maintaining control over airstrips and ports on the coast of Colombia.
The Brooklyn indictments also charge seven other cartel leaders, including Daniel Rendon-Herrera aka “Don Mario,” the original founder and prior leader of Clan Usuga; Luis Orlando Padierna Pena aka “Inglaterra,” and Jobanis de Jesus Avila Villadiego aka “Chiquito” and “Chiquito Malo,” commanders of Clan Usuga; and Jhoni Alberto Grajales aka “Guajiro,” Orlando Gutierrez-Rendon aka “Negro Orlando,” Gustavo Palomino Araujo aka “Camilo,” and Eduard Fernando Cardoza-Giraldo aka “Boliqueso” – alleged leaders of drug collections offices and paramilitary armed groups aligned with Clan Usuga.
A Miami indictment unsealed today charges Dairo Antonio Usuga-David aka “Otoniel,” “Mao,” and “Mauricio,” Jairo De Jesus Durango Restrepo aka “Gua Gua,” Roberto Vargas Gutierrez aka “Gavilan,” Aristides Manuel Mesa Paez aka “El Indio,” Alverio Feo Alvarado aka “Benevides,” Oscar David Pulgarin-Ganan aka “Nino” and “Coroso,” Ramiro Caro-Pineda aka “Nolasco” and “Hugo,” Cesar Daniel Anaya Martinez aka “Tierra,” and Eduardo Luis Vargas Gutierrez aka “Pipon,” with conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, knowing that it would be imported into the United States. Specifically, the defendants are charged with the distribution from as early as 2002 through June 2015, in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico and elsewhere.
According to a previously unsealed superseding indictment out of Miami, beginning around October 2006 through Feb. 10, 2012, defendants Henry De Jesus Lopez Londono aka “Mi Sangre,” “Salvador,” “Carlos Mario,” “Brother,” “Krackin,” and “Federico,” Jhon Fernando Giraldo Usuga aka “Simon,” and “Revenlino,” Arley Usuga Torres aka “07,” “Siete,” and “Samuel,” Jose Carlos Londono Robledo aka “Tito” and “Wolverine,” Carlos Antonio Moreno Tuberquia aka “Nicholas,” Edison Gomez Molina aka “El Doctor,” and Juan Diego Giraldo Usuga aka “Menor” and “Camilo,” are charged with conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine knowing that it would be imported into the United States. Gomez Molina, Giraldo Usuga and Fernando Usuga pleaded guilty to the superseding indictment on Nov. 26, 2013, March 20, 2014, and May 8, 2014, respectively. According to their stipulated factual proffers, from at least October 2006 through February 2012, Gomez Molina, Giraldo Usuga and Fernando Usuga, along with others, used airplanes and other means of transportation to ship multiple loads of cocaine from Colombia to Central America. The loads ranged anywhere from 300 to 600 kilograms each. From there, the cocaine would be delivered to representatives of other organizations, who would take the cocaine and ultimately import it into the United States. Each defendant admitted that he was responsible for the shipment or attempted shipment of at least 150 kilograms of cocaine and knew that the cocaine would ultimately be imported into the United States. Gomez Molina was sentenced to serve 63 months in prison on Feb. 4, 2014. Girlado Usuga was sentenced to serve 63 months in prison on June 9, 2014. Fernando Usuga was sentenced to serve 168 months in prison on Aug. 29, 2014.
In another Miami indictment, Victor Alfonso Mosquera Perez aka “Negro,” is charged with conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, knowing that it would be imported into the United States. Specifically, the distribution allegedly occurred from as early as 2008 until approximately May 9, 2014, in Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua and elsewhere.
According to another indictment, Andres Fernandez Perez-Restrepo aka “Anthrax,” is charged with conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, knowing that it would imported into the United States. Specifically, the defendant is alleged to have committed the distribution from at least as early as July 2012 through March 2, 2014, in Colombia, Honduras and elsewhere.
As detailed in one of the Brooklyn indictments, between June 2003 and December 2014, Usuga-David, Vargas Gutierrez, Moreno Turberquia, Padierna Pena, Avila Villadiego, Anaya Martinez and others, as leaders of Clan Usuga, conspired to import more than 73 metric tons of cocaine into the United States. Clan Usuga coordinated the production, purchase and transfer of multi-ton shipments of cocaine, as well as the receipt of shipments of cocaine in Mexico and Central America, for ultimate importation into the United States. Clan Usuga also controlled territory in various areas in Colombia and imposed a tax on any drug traffickers operating in those territories – a set fee for every kilogram of cocaine that was manufactured, stored or transported through areas under their control. The indictment further alleges that these defendants employed sicarios, or hitmen, who carried out acts of violence including murders, assaults, kidnappings and assassinations to collect drug debts, maintain discipline, control and expand drug territory and to promote and enhance the position of the organization.
In a second of the indictments unsealed in Brooklyn, Orlando Gutierrez-Rendon aka “Negro Orlando,” is charged with leading the Gutierrez-Rendon drug trafficking organization, a cocaine trafficking and cocaine-debt collection organization based in Cali, Colombia, that was aligned with Clan Usuga. According to the indictment, the Gutierrez-Rendon’s organization was involved in multi-ton shipments of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico, El Salvador and Panama for ultimate importation into the United States. The organization is also alleged to have acted as a collection agency, using violence and murder to collect payments and outstanding debts related to cocaine shipments on behalf of Clan Usuga. In exchange for its role in collecting funds, the organization received ownership interests in the cocaine shipments. Gutierrez-Rendon is also charged with conspiring to murder rival drug traffickers, including the murder of Samir Garcia. Between January 2006 and May 2013, Gutierrez-Rendon allegedly imported more than 30,000 kilograms of cocaine into the United States.
In a third Brooklyn indictment, Gustavo Palomino Araujo aka “Soldado,” “Zarco,” and “Camilo,” is charged with leading the Palomino Araujo, an organization responsible for cocaine trafficking, cocaine-debt collection and a paramilitary organization based in Cali, Colombia, that was aligned with Clan Usuga. The organization allegedly facilitated the transfer of multi-ton shipments of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico and Central America for importation into the United States, controlled territory in various areas in Colombia, imposed a tax on any drug traffickers operating in regions under its control and employed sicarios, or hitmen, to collect debts. Palomino Araujo is also charged with conspiring to murder numerous drug rivals.
In the fourth Brooklyn indictment, Eduard Fernando Cardoza-Giraldo aka “Boliqueso,” is charged with international cocaine trafficking in connection with his role in controlling a drug debt collection office aligned with Clan Usuga.
In all, 25 individuals have been charged in the investigations coordinated between the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in Brooklyn and Miami. All of the defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison, if convicted of the charges against them. Certain individuals named in indictments unsealed today have also been charged by other U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country. These cases are the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement.
The cases in the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven L. Tiscione, Gina M. Parlovecchio and Margaret Lee of the office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section.
The cases in the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Florida are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Nadler of the office’s Narcotics Section.
An indictment is a formal charging document notifying the defendant of the charges. All persons charged in an indictment are presumed innocent until proven guilty.