SEVENTEEN ALLEGED LEADERS AND ASSOCIATES OF CLAN USUGA INDICTED IN BROOKLYN AND MIAMI AS PART OF COORDINATED STRIKE AGAINST COLOMBIA’S LARGEST AND MOST INFLUENTIAL DRUG TRAFFICKING AND ARMED BACRIM CRIMINAL GROUP
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA --Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida (SDFL), Kelly T. Currie, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) and Jay Bergman, Regional Director of the Andean Region for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced today the unsealing of five indictments in U.S. federal courts in Brooklyn, New York and Miami, Florida charging 17 alleged leaders and associates of Colombia’s largest and most influential BACRIM (banda criminal or criminal group), CLAN USUGA (formerly referred to as Los Urabeños). The alleged leaders and other high-ranking members of CLAN USUGA are charged with operating continuing criminal enterprises, participating in international cocaine trafficking conspiracies, and using firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes. CLAN USUGA and many of its principal leaders have been previously designated by the President of the United States and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control as specially designated narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. The U.S. Department of State has posted a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of alleged CLAN USUGA principal leader Dairo Antonio Usuga David, also known as Otoniel.
“The indictments announced today are the result of a sweeping national and international effort to stem the flow of drugs across the world and into our communities,” said Kelly T. Currie, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “We stand united with our partners in Colombia in our unwavering commitment to root out the leaders of drug trafficking criminal enterprises wherever they may be found.”
"The cases referenced today demonstrate that the U.S. government, in collaboration with our international law enforcement partners, continues to successfully combat leaders and associates of BACRIM criminal enterprises that seek to supply narcotics to the United States,” said Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. “Together, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Colombian authorities strive to systematically dismantle one BACRIM structure after another and eliminate the threat they pose to our communities.”
Mr. Currie and Mr. Ferrer extended their grateful appreciation to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Field Division, Miami Field Division, and the Bogota Country Office as well as the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York El Dorado Task Force, and the Colombian National Police, the agencies responsible for leading the investigations. Mr. Currie and Mr. Ferrer also expressed their gratitude for the invaluable assistance provided by the Colombian Fiscalia General and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs.
“These indictments are the culmination of years of work and far too often heartfelt sacrifice by the brave men and women of the Colombian National Police and the Office of the Prosecutor General of Colombia,” said DEA Regional Director Jay Bergman. “These indictments represent the United States’ steadfast bilateral commitment to conclusively dismantle what is the largest and arguably the last of the nationally structured criminal bands in Colombia.”
“Today’s indictments illustrate our commitment, along with our international law enforcement partners to disrupt a criminal network responsible for smuggling tons of cocaine into the United States,” said Luis Sierra, country attaché for HSI in Colombia. “HSI will continue to use its unique customs authorities to attack and dismantle these types of organizations, and will aggressively pursue leads, regardless of where that information may lead us.”
Six of the CLAN USUGA leaders were charged in both Brooklyn and Miami. Dairo Antonio Usuga-David, also known as “Otoniel,” “Mao,” “Gallo,” and “Mauricio-Gallo,” is alleged to be the principal leader of CLAN USUGA. Roberto Vargas Gutierrez, also known as “Gavilan,” Carlos Alberto Moreno Turberquia, also known as “Nicolas,” Aristides Manuel Mesa Paez, also known as “El Indio,” and Cesar Daniel Anaya Martinez, also known as “Tierra,” are alleged commanders of CLAN USUGA responsible for collecting drug taxes, managing armed combatants, and maintaining control over specific territorial areas within Colombia. Also charged in Brooklyn and Miami is an alleged manager of CLAN USUGA,, Ramiro Caro Pineda, also known as “Nolasco,” who was in charge of collecting drug taxes, coordinating drug shipments, and maintaining control over airstrips and ports on the coast of Colombia.
The Brooklyn indictments also charge seven other cartel leaders, including Daniel Rendon-Herrera, also known as “Don Mario,” the original founder and prior leader of CLAN USUGA; Luis Orlando Padierna Pena, also known as “Inglaterra,” and Jobanis de Jesus Avila Villadiego, also known as “Chiquito” and “Chiquito Malo,” commanders of CLAN USUGA; and Jhoni Alberto Grajales, also known as “Guajiro,” Orlando Gutierrez-Rendon, also known as “Negro Orlando,” Gustavo Palomino Araujo, also known as “Camilo,” and Eduard Fernando Cardoza-Giraldo, also known as “Boliqueso” – alleged leaders of drug collections offices and paramilitary armed groups aligned with CLAN USUGA.
A Miami indictment unsealed today, United States v. Dairo Antonio Usuga-David, et. al., 15 CR 20403-WPD, charges Dairo Antonio Usuga-David, also known as “Otoniel,” “Mao,” and “Mauricio,” Jairo De Jesus Durango Restrepo, also known as “Gua Gua,” Roberto Vargas Gutierrez, also known as “Gavilan,” Aristides Manuel Mesa Paez, also known as “El Indio,” Alverio Feo Alvarado, also known as “Benevides,” Oscar David Pulgarin-Ganan, also known as “Nino” and “Coroso,” Ramiro Caro-Pineda, also known as “Nolasco” and “Hugo,” Cesar Daniel Anaya Martinez, also known as “Tierra,” and Eduardo Luis Vargas Gutierrez, also known as “Pipon,” with conspiring to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, knowing that it would be imported into the United States. Specifically, the defendants are charged with the distribution from as early as 2002 through June 2015, in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, and elsewhere.
According to a previously unsealed superseding indictment out of Miami, United States v. Lopez Londono, et. al., 10 CR 20763 – Lenard (DE 9), beginning around October 2006 through February 10, 2012, defendants Henry De Jesus Lopez Londono, also known as “Mi Sangre,” “Salvador,” “Carlos Mario,” “Brother,” “Krackin,” and “Federico,” Jhon Fernando Giraldo Usuga, also known as “Simon,” and “Revenlino,” Arley Usuga Torres, also known as “07,” “Siete,” and “Samuel,” Jose Carlos Londono Robledo, also known as “Tito” and “Wolverine,” Carlos Antonio Moreno Tuberquia, also known as “Nicholas,” Edison Gomez Molina, also known as “El Doctor,” and Juan Diego Giraldo Usuga, also known as “Menor” and “Camilo,” are charged with conspiring to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine knowing that it would be imported into the United States. Gomez Molina, Giraldo Usuga, and Fernando Usuga pled guilty to the superseding indictment on November 26, 2013, March 20, 2014, and May 8, 2014, respectively (DE 72, 98, 110). According to their stipulated factual proffers (DE 74, 101, 112), from at least October 2006 through February 2012, Gomez Molina, Giraldo Usuga, and Fernando Usuga, along with others, used airplanes and other means of transportation to ship multiple loads of cocaine from Colombia to Central America. The loads ranged anywhere from 300 to 600 kilograms each. From there, the cocaine would be delivered to representatives of other organizations, who would take the cocaine and ultimately import it into the United States. Each defendant admitted that he was responsible for the shipment or attempted shipment of at least 150 kilograms of cocaine and knew that the cocaine would ultimately be imported into the United States. Gomez Molina was sentenced to 63 months in prison on February 4, 2014 (DE 90). Girlado Usuga was sentenced to 63 months’ imprisonment on June 9, 2014 (DE 124). Fernando Usuga was sentenced to 168 months’ imprisonment on August 29, 2014 (DE 139).
In another Miami indictment, United States v. Victor Alfonso Mosquera Perez, 14 CR 20332 – Moore/McAliley (DE 1), Victor Alfonso Mosquera Perez, also known as “Negro,” is charged with conspiring to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, knowing that it would be imported into the United States. Specifically, the distribution allegedly occurred from as early as 2008 until approximately May 9, 2014, in Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, and elsewhere.
According to another indictment, United States v. Andres Fernandez Perez-Restrepo, 14 CR 20333 – Ungaro/Otazo-Reyes (DE 1), Andres Fernandez Perez-Restrepo, also known as “Anthrax,” is charged with conspiring to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, knowing that it would imported into the United States. Specifically, the defendant is alleged to have committed the distribution from at least as early as July 2012 through March 2, 2014, in Colombia, Honduras, and elsewhere.
As detailed in one of the Brooklyn indictments, United States v. Usuga-David et al., 14 CR 625 (S-2) (DLI), between June 2003 and December 2014, Usuga-David, Vargas Gutierrez, Moreno Turberquia, Padierna Pena, Avila Villadiego, Anaya Martinez, and others, as leaders of CLAN USUGA, conspired to import more than 73 metric tons of cocaine into the United States. CLAN USUGA coordinated the production, purchase, and transfer of multi-ton shipments of cocaine, as well as the receipt of shipments of cocaine in Mexico and Central America, for ultimate importation into the United States. CLAN USUGA also controlled territory in various areas in Colombia and imposed a tax on any drug traffickers operating in those territories – a set fee for every kilogram of cocaine that was manufactured, stored, or transported through areas under their control. The indictment further alleges that these defendants employed sicarios, or hitmen, who carried out acts of violence including murders, assaults, kidnappings, and assassinations to collect drug debts, maintain discipline, control and expand drug territory, and to promote and enhance the position of the organization.
In a second of the indictments unsealed in Brooklyn, United States v. Gutierrez-Rendon, 14 CR 607 (CBA), Orlando Gutierrez-Rendon, also known as “Negro Orlando,” is charged with leading the Gutierrez-Rendon drug trafficking organization, a cocaine trafficking and cocaine-debt collection organization based in Cali, Colombia that was aligned with CLAN USUGA. According to the indictment, the Gutierrez-Rendon’s organization was involved in multi-ton shipments of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico, El Salvador, and Panama for ultimate importation into the United States. The organization is also alleged to have acted as a collection agency, using violence and murder to collect payments and outstanding debts related to cocaine shipments on behalf of CLAN USUGA. In exchange for its role in collecting funds, the organization received ownership interests in the cocaine shipments. Gutierrez-Rendon is also charged with conspiring to murder rival drug traffickers, including the murder of Samir Garcia. Between January 2006 and May 2013, Gutierrez-Rendon allegedly imported more than 30,000 kilograms of cocaine into the United States.
In a third Brooklyn indictment, United States v. Palomino-Araujo, 15 CR 162 (CBA), Gustavo Palomino Araujo, also known as “Soldado,” “Zarco,” and “Camilo,” is charged with leading the Palomino Araujo an organization responsible for cocaine trafficking, cocaine-debt collection, and a paramilitary organization based in Cali, Colombia that was aligned with CLAN USUGA. The organization allegedly facilitated the transfer of multi-ton shipments of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico and Central America for importation into the United States, controlled territory in various areas in Colombia, imposed a tax on any drug traffickers operating in regions under its control, and employed sicarios, or hitmen, to collect debts. Palomino Araujo is also charged with conspiring to murder numerous drug rivals.
In the fourth Brooklyn indictment, United States v. Cardoza-Giraldo, 15 CR 305 (KAM), Eduard Fernando Cardoza-Giraldo, also known as “Boliqueso,” is charged with international cocaine trafficking in connection with his role in controlling a drug debt collection office aligned with CLAN USUGA.
In all, 25 individuals have been charged in the investigations coordinated between the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in Brooklyn and Miami. All of the defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of the charges against them. Certain individuals named in indictments unsealed today have also been charged by other U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country. These cases are the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement.
The cases in the Eastern District of New York are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven L. Tiscione, Gina M. Parlovecchio, and Margaret Lee from the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section.
The cases in the Southern District of Florida are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Nadler from the Office’s Narcotics Section.
An indictment is a formal charging document notifying the defendant of the charges. All persons charged in an indictment are presumed innocent until proven guilty.