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Press Release

Colombian Narcotrafficker Sentenced to 18 Years’ Imprisonment for Transporting More Than 50,000 Kilograms of Cocaine to the United States

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
The Defendant Also Ordered to Forfeit $20 Million as Part of His Sentence

Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, Alvaro Vivero Rendon was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment by United States District Judge Edward R. Korman for conspiracy to internationally distribute cocaine.  As part of the sentence, the Court entered a forfeiture money judgment of $20 million.  Vivero pleaded guilty to the charge in March 2017.

Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Ray Donovan, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division (DEA); Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI); Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD); and Kevin P. Bruen, Acting Superintendent, New York State Police (NYSP), announced the sentence.

“With today’s lengthy prison sentence and entry of a $20 million forfeiture money judgment, Vivero is prevented from profiting from his crimes while being held accountable for leading an international drug-trafficking conspiracy that transported massive quantities of cocaine into the United States through Central America and Mexico,” stated Acting United States Attorney Kasulis.  “This Office and its law enforcement partners are committed to tracking down international narcotics traffickers like the defendant and stopping the pipeline of drugs coming into our communities from abroad.”

Ms. Kasulis expressed her appreciation to DEA’s Bogota Country Office Group 2 (BCO2) and the Colombian National Police (CNP) Direccion de Investigacion Criminal e Interpol (DIJIN) Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU) for their assistance.

“Vivero played a vital role in international cocaine trafficking, pushing multi-million dollar loads into America,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Donovan.  “Evident in his plea and $20 million forfeiture, Vivero bypassed laws, bribed corrupt law enforcement, and concealed contraband in order to profit off the sale of poison.”

“Alvaro Vivero Rendon is responsible for flooding American streets with tens of thousands of pounds of cocaine over a six-year period,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh.  “The continued cooperation between law enforcement ensures Vivero and individuals like him can no longer profit from the poison he trafficked and will now have to face the consequences.”

According to court filings, from 2009 until his arrest in October 2014, Vivero led a massive international drug trafficking conspiracy responsible for trafficking tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia to intermediary locations in Central America and Mexico by air and by sea, before the cocaine was transported to the United States.  Vivero shipped much of this cocaine through San Andres Island off the coast of Nicaragua, which he used as a strategic transshipment point.  Vivero’s air drug route through San Andres relied on bribing corrupt law enforcement officials at airports in both mainland Colombia and on San Andres.  From San Andres, Vivero’s workers usually sent the cocaine to Honduras via fast boats.  After the fast boats unloaded the cocaine in Honduras, they were typically loaded with drug proceeds, usually in the form of U.S. dollars, which they transported back to San Andres before couriers brought suitcases full of drug proceeds back to mainland Colombia.

Vivero received an estimated $20 million for his role in the conspiracy.  Vivero was arrested in Colombia in October 2014 and he was extradited to the United States in April 2016.                                 

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section.  Assistant United States Attorney Nomi D. Berenson is in charge of the prosecution.  The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in this matter.

The Defendant:

ALVARO VIVERO RENDON (also known as “Jhon Francisco Melo Barrera,” “John Francisco Melo Barrera,” “El Ingeniero,” “Felipe,” “Francisco Melo,” “La Policia,” “Principe,” “Profe” and “Alberto Ramos”)
Age:  56
Buga, Colombia

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 14-CR-153 (S-1) (ERK)


John Marzulli
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated September 14, 2021

Drug Trafficking