Manhattan And Brooklyn U.S. Attorneys Announce Guilty Plea In Manhattan Federal Court Of Colombian Narcotics Kingpin To Massive Cocaine Conspiracy
“Loco Barrera” Worked With Two Colombian Terrorist Organizations To Manufacture And Distribute Hundreds Of Tons Of Cocaine Per Year, And Laundered Tens Of Millions Of Dollars In Drug Proceeds
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”), and Loretta E. Lynch, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (“EDNY”), announced that DANIEL BARRERA BARRERA, also known as “Loco Barrera,” a citizen of Colombia, pled guilty today in the Southern District of New York before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis to conspiring to distribute and manufacture cocaine knowing that it would be imported into the United States. For decades, BARRERA manufactured hundreds of tons of cocaine annually in Colombia and trafficked it to various parts of the world, including the U.S., and laundered tens of millions of dollars in proceeds from that narcotics trafficking activity. BARRERA was previously extradited from Colombia to the United States on July 9, 2013.
In March 2010, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated BARRERA as a “Special Designated Narcotics Trafficker,” pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. BARRERA was arrested in Venezuela on September 18, 2012. Thereafter, he was sent to Colombia, from where the U.S. sought and obtained BARRERA’s extradition. The extradition and guilty plea of BARRERA is the result of an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (“OCDETF”) investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) and Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”). The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Daniel Barrera Barrera operated at the interface of two Colombian terrorist organizations that were sworn enemies of each other but each of which benefitted from Barrera’s patronage. As he has now admitted in our courthouse, Barrera bought cocaine paste from the FARC and, under the protection of the AUC, turned it into hundreds of tons of hugely profitable product annually, some of which he knew was intended for distribution in the U.S. A drug kingpin who enriched two terrorist organizations and himself by producing and peddling poison now stands to lose his wealth, his empire, and his liberty.”
U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch said: “Daniel ‘Loco’ Barrera Barrera’s reign as one of the world’s most prolific narcotics traffickers has come to an end. Barrera’s illegal empire, funded by millions of dollars of illicit proceeds and backed by some of the most lethal drug cartels and terrorist groups in the world, wreaked havoc in Colombia and around the world for decades. The amount of destruction Barrera wrought upon the world, all in pursuit of staggering profits, is truly incalculable. This plea demonstrates our government’s commitment to bringing all narcotics traffickers to justice, no matter how rich, powerful, ruthless and violent they may be.”
As alleged in the Superseding Indictment filed in the Southern District of New York (S1 07 Cr. 862 (AKH)), the Superseding Indictment filed in the Eastern District of New York (S2 10 Cr. 288 (ILG)), statements made at today’s guilty plea and other court proceedings, and other information in the public record:
From 1998 until 2010, BARRERA ran a cocaine manufacturing and trafficking syndicate out of Colombia. BARRERA purchased the raw cocaine base or paste from the designated terrorist group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the “FARC”). The FARC, which has been and is dedicated to the violent overthrow of the democratically elected Government of Colombia, has been the world’s largest supplier of cocaine and has engaged in bombings, massacres, kidnappings, and other acts of violence within Colombia.
After purchasing the raw cocaine base from the FARC, BARRERA converted the raw cocaine into powder at laboratories he owned and operated in an area of Colombia controlled by the since demobilized terrorist group, Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (the “AUC”). For years, the AUC’s main political objective was to defeat the FARC in armed conflict, and it financed its terrorist activities through the proceeds of cocaine trafficking in AUC-controlled regions of Colombia. At the time of BARRERA’s criminal conduct, the FARC and the AUC were both designated by the U.S. Department of State as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
After processing the cocaine powder in his laboratories, BARRERA arranged for the shipment and transportation of the cocaine powder to locations on four continents, including the United States. Although BARRERA purchased raw materials for cocaine production from the FARC, he was able to maintain his network of cocaine-processing laboratories in AUC-controlled territory, in part by paying monthly “taxes” to the AUC. The fees BARRERA paid to the AUC also allowed him to safely move the processed cocaine through and out of Colombia.
Each month, BARRERA processed approximately 30,000 kilograms of raw cocaine base into about the same amount of cocaine powder, resulting in approximately 400 tons of cocaine annually. In total, BARRERA reaped tens of millions of dollars of profits from cocaine trafficking, which he laundered through illicit means.
Earlier today, BARRERA, 47, pled guilty in the Southern District of New York to one count of conspiring to distribute and manufacture cocaine knowing it would be unlawfully imported into the U.S. On that count, BARRERA faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. BARRERA is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein on February 27, 2015.
On October 9, 2014, BARRERA pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of New York to one count of conspiring to launder money. On that count, BARRERA faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. BARRERA is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge I. Leo Glasser on January 22, 2015.
BARRERA is also charged in the Southern District of Florida with one count of conspiring to import cocaine into the U.S. and one count of conspiring to manufacture and distribute cocaine knowing that it would be unlawfully imported into the U.S. On those counts, BARRERA faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. Following his prosecutions in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, BARRERA will be presented and arraigned in the Southern District of Florida. The charge and allegations contained in the Southern District of Florida Indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent of that charge unless and until proven guilty.
The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara and Ms. Lynch praised the outstanding work of the OCDETF, working in cooperation with HSI New York’s El Dorado Task Force, the DEA’s Bogota Country Office, the DEA’s Caracas Country Office, the DEA’s Miami Field Division, the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force – which comprises agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City Police Department, and the New York State Police – as well as HSI Bogota. Mr. Bharara and Ms. Lynch also thanked the Colombian National Police, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for their ongoing assistance.
The Southern District of New York case is being handled by that office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Jenna Dabbs, Benjamin Naftalis, and Andrea Surratt are in charge of the prosecution. The Eastern District of New York case is being handled by that office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Justin Lerer, Soumya Dayananda, and Amir Toossi are in charge of the prosecution.