Two Colombian Nationals Plead Guilty to International Cocaine Distribution
Defendants Had Ties to Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
WASHINGTON – Mauricio Mazabel-Soto, 45, and Alfredo Molina-Cutiva, 53, both citizens of Colombia, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute large quantities of cocaine for importation into the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Regional Director Omar Arellano. Mazabel-Soto entered his plea on December 20, 2022. Molina-Cutiva entered his plea on November 28, 2022. U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta scheduled Molina-Cutiva’s sentencing hearing for March 31, 2023, and Mazabel-Soto’s for April 23, 2023.
In 2018, DEA agents began investigating large-scale drug traffickers with ties to the terrorist group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). During a long-term investigation, defendant Mazabel-Soto represented himself as someone authorized to enter into large cocaine production agreements on behalf of the FARC and portrayed co-defendant Molina-Cutiva as being responsible for FARC drug trafficking logistics in southwestern Colombia. Additionally, the defendants represented that defendant Molina-Cutiva was responsible for all FARC cocaine laboratories in Huila and Caqueta, Colombia as well as transferring cocaine across the border with Ecuador for exportation north by way of the Pacific Ocean.
During a series of recorded meetings, defendants Mazabel-Soto and Molina-Cutiva offered to produce large quantities of cocaine for an individual they believed was representing a major Mexican drug cartel. In one particular meeting, the defendants proposed a business agreement wherein the Mexican cartel would invest $2 milllion (USD) in their business and the FARC would construct a cocaine laboratory for the cartel, where they would have exclusive rights to the production. The defendants stated that the first 1,000 kilograms produced would be free and the FARC would then produce an additional 1,000 kilograms of cocaine for the cartel every few weeks, at a cost of $1,600 (USD) per kilogram. The defendants agreed to place designer stamps on each kilogram of cocaine, including the logo for the Detroit Tigers Major League Baseball team.
In April 2019, in Bogota, Colombia, defendant Mazabel-Soto provided another individual with a five-kilogram “sample” of cocaine to demonstrate the quality. Mazabel-Soto accepted $11,000 (USD) for this sample delivery. DEA lab results show that the cocaine was 96% pure.
On June 25, 2019, defendant Mazabel-Soto was arrested in Colombia and, on April 16, 2021, was extradited to the United States; co-defendant Cutiva was arrested in Colombia on August 8, 2019 and, on January 25, 2021, was extradited to the United States. An additional co-defendant (Aldemar Soto-Charry) was arrested in Colombia on August 8, 2019, and is pending extradition.
As part of their plea agreements, defendants Mazabel-Soto and Molina-Cutiva agreed that they were accountable for conspiring to distribute at least 1,000 kilograms of cocaine, which quantity represented the total amount involved in their relevant criminal conduct
Each defendant faces a statutory maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, with the possibility of fines. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Graves and DEA Acting Regional Director Arellano commended the work of those who investigated the case, including the DEA’s Bogota Country office, the FBI LEGAT Bogota, and the FBI Miami Field Office. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Rosenberg and Anthony Scarpelli, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Goddard, of the Violence Reduction and Trafficking Offenses Section, who prosecuted the case.