South Florida Man Indicted by Federal Grand Jury for Firearm Offense in Relation to Shooting at the Palm Beach Gardens Mall
MIAMI – A Colombian national pleaded guilty today, in Miami, Florida, to kidnapping and assaulting two U.S. Army soldiers who were on temporary duty in Bogota, Colombia.
According to court documents, Jeffersson Arango Castellanos, 36, and his co-conspirators targeted, incapacitated, and kidnapped two U.S. soldiers in Bogota. On the evening of March 5, 2020, the two victims were in an entertainment district in Bogota. They visited a pub, where Arango and his co-conspirators incapacitated the two victims by putting drugs, including benzodiazepines, in their drinks. They then kidnapped the victims and took their wallets, debit cards, credits cards, and cell phones. Arango and his co-conspirators used one victim’s credit card and the other victim’s debit card to make purchases and withdraw money. The two victims lost consciousness until the following day, by which point they had been separated.
Arango pleaded guilty to kidnapping an internationally protected person, conspiracy to kidnap an internationally protected person, assaulting an internationally protected person, and conspiracy to assault an internationally protected person. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
In May 2023, Arango was extradited from Colombia to the United States pursuant to a U.S. extradition request. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section’s Judicial Attaché Office in Bogota, and U.S. Marshals Service worked with Colombian law enforcement authorities to secure the arrest and extradition of Arango.
U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of the FBI Miami Field Office made the announcement.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertila L. Fernandez for the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorneys Clayton O’Connor and Elizabeth Nielsen of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section are prosecuting the case.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 23-CR-20173.
Public Affairs Unit
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida