South Florida Resident and Colombian National Charged with Violating the Kingpin Act
A Miami-Dade County resident and a Colombian national have been charged with narcotics trafficking and money laundering offenses, in violation of the federal Kingpin Act.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
According to the Indictment, from at least as early as April 2018, and continuing through May 2018, Jose Piedrahita Castillo, Jr., 29, of Medellin, Colombia, and Sandra Milena Ruiz Arango, 34, of Miami-Dade County, Florida conspired to commit violations of the Kingpin Act, in connection with attempts to transfer, use, and deal in property in which defendant Castillo Jr. and Jose Bayron Piedrahita Ceballos, have an interest. According to the Indictment, on June 26, 2014, the President of the United States designated La Oficina De Envigado as a “significant foreign narcotics trafficker” subject to economic sanctions. Furthermore, on May 3, 2016, the President of the United States designated defendant Jose Piedrahita Castillo, Jr., Jose Bayron Piedrahita Ceballos, and Andres Piedrahita Castillo, as “significant foreign narcotics traffickers” under the Kingpin Act. According to the Indictment, Jose Piedrahita Castillo, Jr., Jose Bayron Piedrahita Ceballos, and Andres Piedrahita Castillo are affiliates of La Oficina De Envigado.
The Kingpin Act declared a national emergency with respect to the activities of international narcotics traffickers and their organizations, which threatened the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States of America. Any property and interests in property within the United States, which were owned or controlled by any “significant foreign narcotics trafficker” designated by the President of the United States, pursuant to the Kingpin Act, is blocked as of the date of such designation and identification. Furthermore, any transaction within the United States by a United States person, in property or interests of any “significant foreign narcotics trafficker” identified by the President of the United States, is prohibited.
The Indictment further alleges that Jose Piedrahita Castillo, Jr. and Sandra Milena Ruiz Arango committed money laundering, and that Jose Piedrahita Castillo, Jr. committed multiple violations of U.S. narcotics laws, involving the importation and distribution of the powerful opioid oxycodone.
If convicted of the charges of conspiracy or attempt to violate the Kingpin Act, the defendants face a statutory maximum term of 10 years in prison. If convicted of the money laundering or narcotics offenses charged in the indictment, the defendants face a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison.
This investigation and prosecution was carried out by members of the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. The South Florida HIDTA, established in 1990, is made up of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who, cooperatively, target the region’s drug-trafficking and money laundering organizations. The South Florida HIDTA is funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which sponsors a variety of initiatives focused on the nation’s illicit drug trafficking threats.
This prosecution is a 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.
Mr. Greenberg commends the investigative efforts of the FBI and United States Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan K. Osborne.