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Press Release

Guatemalan man who was extradited to Ohio sentenced to 140 months in prison for Colombia-to-United States cocaine conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Guatemalan man was sentenced in federal court here for distributing at least five kilograms or more of cocaine on the high seas.


In March 2020, Jose Luis DeLeon-Baltazar, 40, was sentenced to 140 months in prison. He was extradited to Columbus from Bogota, Colombia. DeLeon-Baltazar is the second defendant to be extradited to the United States in this case.


DeLeon-Baltazar conspired with others to ship hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia, via sea and land, through Central America and Mexico to the United States.


DeLeon-Baltazar, also known as “Enano,” was indicted in September 2018. 


According to court documents, as part of the conspiracy individuals would use “load” coordinators to assist with logistics of cocaine shipments, locate drivers and boat operators for narcotic-laden vehicles and vessels, and secure shared investments from multiple co-conspirators in specific cocaine shipments.  Fishermen and other commercial maritime laborers were allegedly recruited by conspirators to transport cocaine and refueling vessels. 


Conspirators paid a “tax” or “fee” to send cocaine through areas controlled by a different drug trafficking organization or cartel.


Members of the conspiracy shared information on the activities and locations of law enforcement and military personnel assigned to interdict narcotics shipments. Co-conspirators also sheltered individuals who were at risk of extradition to other countries.


Low-level co-conspirators would take responsibility for an entire load of seized cocaine to free higher-level members.


DeLeon-Baltazar received multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine transported on go-fast speed boats from Colombia into Guatemala.  Once the cocaine arrived in Guatemala, DeLeon-Baltazar hid the cocaine in buildings in Tecun Uman, Guatemala until the cocaine was transported across Guatemala’s northern border into Mexico.  On May 19, 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a go-fast boat that contained 880 kilograms of cocaine approximately 400 miles south of the Guatemala- Mexico border. That shipment was to be received by DeLeon-Baltazar in Guatemala where he would store it until it was to be transported to Mexico.


Additional cocaine shipments seized in this case thus far include:


  • 720 kilograms of cocaine seized by the United States Coast Guard northwest of the Galapagos Islands on Aug. 18, 2017; and
  • 34 kilograms of cocaine seized by the Guatemalan Policia National Civil in San Marcos, Guatemala on or about Nov. 26, 2017.


Four defendants were transported to Ohio for prosecution in September 2017, following the 720 kilogram seizure near the Galapagos Islands. That seizure alone included more than 1,584 pounds of cocaine, equaling an approximate street value of $25 million. In total, six defendants have now been convicted in the Southern District of Ohio.


Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Keith Martin, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); and Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Richard S. Fambro announced the sentence imposed on Dec. 7 by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson. Elizabeth R. Rabe, now a Trial Attorney at the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering Asset Recovery Section and Assistant United States Attorney Kelly A. Norris represented the United States in this case. The case was charged and prosecuted as part of OCDETF, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in securing DeLeon-Baltazar’s extradition from Colombia.


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Updated December 12, 2021

Drug Trafficking