of Justice Press Release on the FARC Indictment Announcement, Washington,
March 22, 2006
States Charges 50 Leaders of Narco-Terrorist FARC in Colombia
with Supplying More Than Half of the World's Cocaine
D.C.Fifty leaders of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias
de Colombia (FARC) in Colombia have been indicted on charges of
importing more than $25 billion worth of cocaine into the United
States and other countries, the Department of Justice announced
one-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia on March 1, 2006,
and unsealed today, names as defendants 50 leaders of the FARC,
a designated foreign terrorist organization. Three of the charged
FARC leaders are currently in custody in Colombia, and the United
States is seeking their extradition on the charges unsealed today.
In addition, the U.S. Department of State announced more than
$75 million worth of rewards for information that leads to the
capture of the remaining FARC leaders.
indictment strikes at the very heart of the FARC narcotics operation
that has flooded our communities with cocaine, said Attorney
General Alberto R. Gonzales. Because of unprecedented cooperation
between United States and Colombian authorities, we are closer
than ever before to reaching our goal of bringing the leaders
of this narco-terrorist group to justice in the United States.
will continue our relentless pursuit of narco-terrorists wherever
they may be found, in order to protect our citizens from the scourge
of cocaine and other dangerous narcotics, said Assistant
Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division.
FARC is a designated foreign terrorist organization that funds
its activities through a massive distribution network. By terrorizing
local farmers in Colombia and attacking all those who threaten
their operations, the FARC has built a cocaine empire that is
the largest supplier in the United States, said U.S. Attorney
Michael J. Garcia of the Southern District of New York. Todays
indictment signals our intention to seek extradition of the three
leaders in custody and to relentlessly pursue the 47 other named
their jungle hideaway, the FARC uses the drug trade to bankroll
terrorism in Colombia, finance attacks on innocent citizens, and
poison Americans, said DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy.
Todays indictment challenges that lawlessness, and
the FARC leadership should prepare to face the justice that they
have long denied to so many.
to the indictment, the FARC currently supplies more than 50 percent
of the worlds cocaine and more than 60 percent of the cocaine
that enters the United States. The FARC initially taxed other
narcotics traffickers involved in the manufacture and distribution
of cocaine in areas the FARC controlled, the indictment charges.
Recognizing the increased profits available from the 1990s to
the present, the FARC moved to become directly involved in the
production and distribution of cocaine by, among other criminal
activities, setting the prices to be paid to farmers across Colombia
for cocaine pastethe raw material used to produce cocaineand
transporting cocaine paste to jungle laboratories under FARC control
where it was converted into ton quantities of finished cocaine
and then shipped out of Colombia to the United States and other
countries. Recognizing that cocaine was the lifeblood
of the FARC, the charged FARC leaders collected millions of dollars
in cocaine proceeds and used the money to purchase weapons for
the FARCs terrorist activities against the government and
people of Colombia, according to the indictment.
to the indictment, the charged FARC leaders used terrorism and
violence to further the FARCs cocaine-trafficking activities
and ordered that Colombian farmers who sold cocaine paste to non-FARC
buyers or otherwise violated the FARCs strict cocaine policies
be murdered. Colombian farmers who violated FARC rules were allegedly
shot, stabbed or dismembered alive, and the bodies of murdered
farmers were cut open, filled with rocks and sunk in nearby rivers.
The defendants also allegedly ordered FARC members to kidnap and
murder U.S. citizens to discourage the U.S. government from disrupting
the FARCs cocaine-trafficking activities. According to the
indictment, the charged FARC leaders authorized their members
to shoot down U.S. fumigation planes, and plotted to retaliate
against U.S. law enforcement officers who were conducting the
investigation into the FARCs narcotics activities.
States Seeks to Extradite Three FARC Leaders Currently In Colombian
General Gonzales also announced today that the United States will
immediately seek to extradite three of the charged FARC leaders
who are currently in custody in Colombia. Jorge Enrique Rodriguez
Mendieta, a.k.a "Ivan Vargas," Erminso Cuevas Cabrera,
a.k.a "Mincho," and Juan Jose Martinez Vega, a.k.a "Gentil
Alvis Patino, or "Chiguiro, will each be served
with a United States provisional arrest warrant based on the indictment
unsealed todaythe first step in the extradition process.
These three defendants led the FARC cocaine-trafficking activities
in various ways, as described below:
Enrique Rodriguez Mendieta, a.k.a Ivan Vargas, served
as a member of the FARCs Estado Mayor or operational leadership
council and as the Front Commander for the FARCs 24th Front.
Rodriguez Mendieta allegedly directed the purchase of hundreds
of thousands of kilograms of cocaine paste and transmitted billions
of Colombian pesos in cocaine proceeds to other FARC officials.
Rodriguez Mendieta is also alleged to have ordered the murder
of at least eight farmers, including several whom he personally
dismembered alive, and to have plotted to retaliate against United
States law enforcement officers who were conducting the narcotics-trafficking
investigation that led to the charges announced today. Rodriguez
Mendieta was arrested by Colombian authorities in late 2004, and
is in custody in Colombia.
Cuevas Cabrera, a.k.a "Mincho," was a FARC associate
who managed cocaine laboratories for the FARCs 14th Front.
Cuevas Cabrera allegedly supervised the production and distribution
of hundreds of thousands of kilograms of cocaine. He is also alleged
to be the brother of charged Estado Mayor member Jose Benito Cabrera
Cuevas, a.k.a "Fabian Ramirez." Cuevas Cabrera was arrested
by Colombian authorities in late 2004, and is in custody in Colombia.
Jose Martinez Vega, a.k.a "Gentil Alvis Patino, a.k.a
"Chiguiro," was a FARC associate who provided large
quantities of arms and ammunition to the FARC in exchange for
thousands of kilograms of cocaine. Martinez Vega was arrested
in Venezuela in early 2005 during the rescue mission of former
Detroit Tigers pitcher Ugueth Urbinas mother. At the time
of his arrest in Venezuela, Martinez Vega was allegedly in possession
of approximately 700 kilograms of cocaine. Martinez Vega is currently
in custody in Colombia.
Department Offers More Than $75 Million In Rewards For Fugitive
United States Department of State announced today rewards of more
than $75 million for information leading to the capture of 24
of the FARC leaders charged today. Specifically, the State Department
is offering rewards of up to $5 million for information leading
to the arrest of the seven members of the FARC Secretariat, the
ultimate policy and decision-making body of the criminal enterprise.
The State Department also is offering rewards of up to $2.5 million
for information leading to the arrest of 17 additional charged
FARC leaders who are members of the FARCs Estado Mayor,
or governing council.
Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement
Anne Patterson, in announcing the rewards for the FARC leaders,
Department of State's Narcotics Rewards Program has successfully
targeted the Cali, Medillin and Norte del Valle Cartels in Colombia,
bringing many of their top leaders to justice. The FARC, responsible
for much of the cocaine trafficked to the United States, is now
in our sights, and I am pleased to announce these reward offers
for its top leadership.
investigation culminating in the indictment announced today was
led by the International Narcotics Trafficking Unit of the U.S.
Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York;
the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS) of the Criminal
Division at the Department of Justice, along with law enforcement
officers from the DEA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE), and the Internal Revenue Service, working together as part
of the New York OCDETF Strike Force, or New York Strike
Force. The New York Strike Force is composed of law enforcement
officers from the DEA; ICE; the IRS; the FBI; the New York City
Police Department; the New York State Police; the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the U.S. Marshals Service.
The investigation and prosecution are supported by trial attorneys
from the Criminal Divisions Narcotic and Dangerous Drug
Section and by the U.S. Attorneys Office for the District
of Colombia. The indictment announced today resulted from unprecedented
cooperation between U.S. law enforcement officers and Colombian
law enforcement authorities.
charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations. All
defendants are presumed innocent until and unless convicted in
a court of law.
March 27, 2006, this document was also available online at http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2006/March/06_crm_163.html