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Press Release

Clandestine Cocaine Laboratory Owner And Former Supplier To Clan Del Golfo Pleads Guilty To Conspiring To Import Cocaine Into The United States

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, FL – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Edgar Cubillos-Burbano (63, Colombia), a/k/a “Don Julio,” “Julio El Quemado,” and “Efrain Ospina,” has pleaded guilty to conspiring to import 5 or more kilograms of cocaine into the United States. He faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Cubillos-Burbano was arrested in Necocli, Colombia on November 10, 2021, pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant. He was returned to the United States on September 20, 2023.

According to the plea agreement, Cubillos-Burbano was the owner and operator of clandestine cocaine laboratories in northern Colombia and was permitted to operate these laboratories with the permission of Clan Del Golfo, Colombia’s largest drug cartel. He supplied various purchasers, including Clan Del Golfo, and the cocaine was sent either to Central America for ultimate importation to the United States or routed to Europe.

On July 5, 2015, Colombian law enforcement seized approximately 3,082 kilograms of cocaine near the shoreline of Capurgana, Colombia on the border between Colombia and Panama. One of the defendant’s cocaine purchasers was responsible for smuggling this shipment (pictured below), half of which was intended for the United States.

After his arrest in Colombia in connection with this case, Cubillos-Burbano admitted his involvement in this smuggling venture to federal agents. He further admitted to operating clandestine cocaine laboratories with the permission of Clan Del Golfo, including a laboratory capable of producing 300 to 400 kilograms of cocaine every 15 days.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi- jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations.

The specific mission of the OCDETF Panama Express Strike Force is to disrupt and dismantle Transnational Criminal Organizations involved in large scale drug trafficking, money laundering, and related activities. The OCDETF Panama Express Strike Force is comprised of agents and officers from the Coast Guard Investigative Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations. The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section’s Judicial Attaché’s Office at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, and Colombian authorities provided significant assistance in securing the arrest and extradition from Colombia of Cubillos-Burbano.

The prosecution is being led by the Office of the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Baeza.

Updated February 29, 2024

Drug Trafficking