Colombian Crime Syndicate Leader Sentenced to Prison for Role in Mediating Drug Money Disputes
BOSTON – A leader of a criminal syndicate based in Medellín, Colombia, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with his role in a conspiracy to invest the proceeds from the sale of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine.
Fredy Alonzo Mira Perez, a/k/a Fredy Colas 49, of Medellín, Colombia, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to seven years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $25,000 fine, and forfeiture of $4 million. Mira Perez surrendered to U.S. law enforcement officials in Bogotá, Colombia in March 2015, and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to invest illicit drug profits in April 2015.
From approximately 2001 to September 2014, Mira Perez was a high-ranking member of La Oficina de Envigado (Oficina) a Colombia-based organized crime syndicate involved in the distribution of thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia to locations worldwide, including the United States. Among other things, the organization served as a debt-collection agency for narcotics traffickers; controlled the flow of narcotics through Medellín and its surroundings; and invested in shipments of narcotics to the United States and elsewhere around the world. Members of Oficina have been known to employ kidnapping, violence, and extortion to achieve these ends.
As one of the leaders of Oficina, Mira Perez conspired with others to import cocaine into the United States and to invest the proceeds from those sales. For years, including from 2012 to 2014, Mira Perez’s served as Oficina’s principal debt collector. Mira Perez also was responsible for the collection of debts on behalf of other drug-trafficking organizations in Mexico and Colombia. These organizations contracted with Oficina to recoup missing drugs and drug proceeds. Among other things, Mira Perez adjudicated disputes regarding any drugs or drug money that was lost, stolen, or seized by law enforcement, and he conducted investigations to determine which parties would bear responsibility for the missing drugs and drug money. Mira Perez then set a repayment schedule. Mira Perez typically charged a forty-percent commission on behalf of Oficina for all recovered drug money, and he invested the commissions to fund the ongoing operations of Oficina.
This case is the result of an international undercover operation that was launched in Boston in 2011. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) ultimately coordinated numerous undercover operations across the world and transferred millions of dollars, sometimes using the Black Market Peso Exchange in Colombia, in order to identify and prosecute criminal organizations like those led by Mira Perez.
According to the DEA, the larger investigation has led to seizure of approximately $15.2 million in illicit drug proceeds and the seizure in the United States and Colombia of approximately 3,970 kilograms of cocaine, 32,000 doses of MDMA (i.e., ecstasy), nine kilograms of methamphetamine, and 1,180 kilograms of marijuana, and the arrest of more than 60 Colombian nationals by Colombian law enforcement.
The investigation also resulted in the designation of multiple individuals and entities to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list maintained by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) within the U.S. Treasury Department. OFAC administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions against international narcotics traffickers. Many of the sanctions are based on United Nations and other international mandates, are multilateral in scope, and involve close cooperation with allied governments.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division; William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston; and John Smith, Director of the U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control, made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. D’Addio of Ortiz’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit.