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Press Release

Four Colombian Traffickers, Including Colombian National Police Officer, Indicted For 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 the unsealing of an indictment charging Hector Fabio Marin-Usme (37), Luis Arbey Vasquez-Romero (46), David Esteban Cardenas-Miramag (27), and John Janier Buitrago-Munoz (34), all from Colombia, with conspiracy to import 5 or more kilograms of cocaine into the United States. If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.       

According to the indictment, the above-named individuals and others conspired to smuggle cocaine via commercial flights from Cali, Colombia to San Andrés Island, Colombia. Marin-Usme was a recruiter, Cardenas-Miramag was a cargo handler at the international airport in Cali, Vasquez-Romero was a security supervisor at the same airport, and Buitrago-Munoz was a Colombian National Police officer assigned to the airport on San Andrés Island.

Beginning on an unknown date, the conspirators initiated attempts to smuggle cocaine from a commercial flight in mainland Colombia to San Andrés Island. In order to avoid detection, the conspirators diverted cameras within the secure area of the Cali airport and disguised the cocaine in boxes of apples.

On July 29, 2023, and after the commercial flight arrived at the San Andrés Island airport, the conspirators attempted to smuggle the cocaine past an inspection area and past law enforcement. However, the Colombian National Police uncovered the scheme and seized approximately 1,300 kilograms of cocaine.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

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, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations. The prosecution of this case is being led by the Office of the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David J. Pardo.

Updated February 29, 2024

Drug Trafficking