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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 13, 2015

Colombian Nationals Sentenced to 36 and 29 Years in Prison for the Kidnapping and Murder of DEA Special Agent James “Terry” Watson

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Omar Fabian Valdes Gualtero, 28, and Edgar Javier Bello Murillo, 28, both Colombian citizens, were sentenced today for their roles in the kidnapping and murder of former Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Special Agent James “Terry” Watson in Bogata, Colombia, on June 20, 2013.  Gualtero was sentenced to 348 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Murillo was sentenced to 440 months in prison and five years of supervised release.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder; Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente, Eastern District of Virginia; DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart; Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Director Bill A. Miller of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee.

“These two defendants bear responsibility for the kidnapping and murder of a courageous federal agent,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “With this sentencing, they face justice for their involvement in this brutal crime.  Our nation owes a great debt to Special Agent Terry Watson and his loved ones.  We will never rest in our determination to honor his profound sacrifices, to pursue all who would threaten our brave men and women in law enforcement, and to carry on the vital work for which he gave his life.”

“Today’s sentencing is another important step in bringing justice to those responsible for the murder of Special Agent Terry Watson,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.  “Terry was a respected and dedicated DEA Special Agent and we will not rest until all those involved in this heinous act are sentenced.  Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the Watson family as this case moves towards a final resolution.”    

Both Gualtero and Murillo previously pleaded guilty to murder of an internationally protected person and conspiracy to kidnap an internationally protected person.

In the statements of facts filed with their plea agreements, as well as other evidence presented in open court, Gualtero and Murillo admitted that they conspired to conduct “paseo milionarios” or “millionaire’s rides” in which victims in Bogotá, Colombia, were lured into taxi cabs, kidnapped and then robbed.  Both admitted that on the evening of June 20, 2013, they were a part of a robbery crew that included five other individuals who targeted Special Agent Watson.  Gualtero was the ring leader, who organized the robbery crew.  One of the members of the crew picked up Special Agent Watson in his taxi, while another drove a second taxi carrying the assailants.  Murillo entered the taxi carrying Special Agent Watson and stabbed him multiple times.  Special Agent Watson was able to escape from the taxi, but he later collapsed and died from his injuries.   

A total of six defendants were charged in this case for their involvement in the murder and kidnapping of Special Agent Watson:  Héctor Leonardo López, 34; Julio Estiven Gracia Ramírez, 32; Andrés Álvaro Oviedo García, 22; Fabián Valdes Gualtero, 28; Edwin Gerardo Figueroa Sepulveda, 40; and Wilson Daniel Peralta Bocacachica, 30.

Defendant Name & Age

Charge(s)

Sentencing Information

Héctor Leonardo López, 34

Guilty to Conspiracy to Kidnap and Aiding and Abetting the Murder of an Internationally Protected Person.

December 12, 2014. 25 years in prison.

Julio Estiven Gracia Ramírez, 32

Same as above.

December 12, 2014. 27 years in prison.

Andrés Álvaro Oviedo García, 22

Same as above.

December 12, 2014. 20 years in prison.

Edwin Gerardo Figueroa Sepulveda, 40

Same as above.

February 18, 2015. 30 years in prison.

Omar Fabian Valdes Gualtero, 28

Same as above.

April 13, 2015. 29 years in prison.

Edgar Javier Bello Murillo, 28

Same as above.

April 13, 2015. 36 years in prison.

Wilson Daniel Peralta Bocacachica,

Obstruction of justice.

February 18, 2015. 40 months in prison.

 

This case was investigated by the FBI, DEA and DSS, in close cooperation with Colombian authorities and with assistance from INTERPOL and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael P. Ben’Ary and Special Counsel Stacey Luck of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section.

The Department of Justice gratefully acknowledges the Colombian Attorney General’s Office, Colombian National Police, Colombian Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (DIJIN), DIJIN Special Investigative Unit, Bogotá Metropolitan Police, Bogotá Police Intelligence Body (CIPOL) Unit and Colombian Technical Investigation Team for their extraordinary efforts, support and professionalism in responding to this incident.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:13-cr-310.

Updated April 15, 2015