Leader of Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Organization with Ties to Mexican Cartel Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison
BOSTON – A Colombian man was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Boston for his role in a drug trafficking, money laundering and extortion conspiracy connected to organized crime in the Republic of Colombia.
Fabio Yepes Sanchez, 57, of Medellín, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin to 10 years in prison and five years of supervised release. In June 2023, Zapata pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy, one count of extortion conspiracy, one count of interstate and foreign travel or transportation in aid of racketeering, and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Yepes Sanchez was indicted by a federal grand jury in May 2020 along with co-conspirators Mario Zapata Velez, Miguel Colindres and Juan Pablo Ariasgil.
Yepes Sanchez and Zapata Velez were members of La Oficina de Envigado (La Oficina), a criminal organization based in Medellín, Colombia. La Oficina originated in the 1980s when its members provided enforcement and collection services for the Medellín Cartel, including deceased Medellín Cartel leader Pablo Escobar. Today, La Oficina is involved in international narcotics trafficking, drug debt collection, money laundering, extortion and murder for hire.
Yepes Sanchez and Zapata Velez conspired to use threats to extort approximately $750,000 in drug debt from two cocaine traffickers based in Massachusetts. Yepes Sanchez and Zapata Velez also conspired with Colindres and Pablo Ariasgil to obtain and sell five kilograms of cocaine from the Massachusetts traffickers and then repatriate the drug proceeds to Colombia, in partial satisfaction of the outstanding drug debt.
In May 2022, Ariasgil was sentenced to four years in prison and four years of supervised release after previously pleading guilty to his role in the cocaine conspiracy. In April, 2023, Colindres was sentenced to 51 months in prison and three years of supervised release after previously pleading guilty to his role in the cocaine conspiracy. In September 2023, Zapata Velez was sentenced to five years in prison and three years of supervised release after previously pleading guilty to his role in the international narcotrafficking and extortion conspiracies.
Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy and Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division made the announcement. Valuable assistance in the investigation was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs of the Justice Department; the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; and the Government of Colombia. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lauren A. Graber and Jared C. Dolan of the Criminal Division prosecuted the case.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.