OFAC-Designated Colombian National Extradited to Face Charge of Distributing Cocaine Internationally
Tito Aldemar Ruano Yandun, also known as “Don T,” “Don Ti,” “Don Tito,” “Pedro Linares,” “Pedro AK2,” “Santos,” “Don Tuma,” “Viejo” and “Viejo Loco,” will be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr., at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn on an indictment charging him with leading an international cocaine distribution conspiracy. The defendant, a Colombian citizen, was arrested in Colombia pursuant to a U.S. provisional arrest request and was extradited to the United States on October 25, 2023.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Deanne Reuter, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Miami Division (DEA); Edward A. Caban, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD); and Dominick L. Chiumento, Acting Superintendent, New York State Police (NYSP), announced the extradition and arraignment.
“As alleged, the defendant is a drug kingpin who led an international trafficking organization that produced and exported thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia and Ecuador to the United States,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “This Office will continue to pursue and bring to justice the leaders of transnational criminal organizations, wherever they are in the world.”
Mr. Peace extended his appreciation to the DEA’s office in Bogota, Colombia, the United States Marshals Service, the United States Department of State, the Colombian National Police, and the Government of Colombia. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS) Judicial Attaché Office in Bogotá, Colombia provided valuable assistance with securing the arrest and extradition of Ruano Yandun.
“This indictment is a testament to the incredible hard work and resiliency of our investigators and speaks to the strength of our partnerships with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, as well as our international counterparts. DEA’s message is clear: we will continue to work relentlessly to dismantle and defeat the international drug trafficking organizations responsible for bringing this poison into our communities, threatening the safety and health of our citizens,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Reuter.
“This case proves again that New York City law enforcement has a very long reach and that anyone who participates in a criminal network – whether locally or globally – will be held to full account for their actions,” stated NYPD Commissioner Caban. “I thank the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, the DEA, the New York State Police, and all the members of OCDETF, for their dedication to this important long-term investigation.”
“This indictment speaks to the tremendous interagency coordination and cooperation necessary to get illegal drugs off our streets,” stated NYSP Acting Superintendent Chiumento. “As a result of this effort, a dangerous international drug trafficking operation, and the organized crime perpetuated by it, has been shut down. A drug like cocaine destroys communities and puts lives at risk. I applaud the U.S. Attorney’s Office and all involved law enforcement partners for their outstanding efforts in dismantling this operation. This case sends a clear message that we will not tolerate this illegal activity in our communities, and we will continue to work together to keep our communities safe.”
According to the indictment, court filings, and statements made in court, Ruano Yandun allegedly led a sophisticated drug trafficking organization (“DTO”) that operated in southwestern Colombia and Ecuador. After procuring cocaine from laboratories operating in Colombia, Ruano Yandun’s DTO arranged for the cocaine to be transported from Colombia and Ecuador through the Pacific Ocean via “go-fast vessels” (“GFVs”). Such GFVs typically carried several hundred kilograms of cocaine at a time. After being loaded with cocaine in Colombia or Ecuador, the GFVs would travel to Guatemala or other Central American countries. Upon successfully arriving in such countries, co-conspirators took possession of the cocaine and transported it by land into Mexico. Co-conspirators then usually sold the cocaine to Mexican DTOs, who would invariably smuggle the cocaine into the United States to be sold. The defendant’s organization exported thousands of kilograms of cocaine to Central America and Mexico so that it could eventually be smuggled into the United States. As part of the investigation, law enforcement authorities seized over 3,000 kilograms of cocaine attributable to Ruano Yandun’s drug trafficking enterprise.
On November 29, 2017, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Ruano Yandun and his organization as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs) for playing a significant role in international narcotics trafficking. At the time of the designation, OFAC explained that Ruano Yandun’s organization was “a key contributor to the increased cocaine production in the Nariño department of Colombia in recent years.”
The extradition of Ruano Yandun is the result 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 charge in the indictment is an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment and up to life in prison.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section. Assistant United States
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CR-27 (WFK)
Danielle Blustein Hass
United States Attorney’s Office