Martin Leonel Perez Castro, also known as “Richard”, was extradited last Friday from Colombia to the United States to face charges in the Eastern District of New York for running an ongoing criminal enterprise and participating in an international conspiracy to manufacture and distribute cocaine. According the indictment, documents filed in court and statements made in court, the accused was the commander of the 30th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a group that operated in southwestern Colombia.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Anne Milgram, Administrator, US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Thomas Fattorusso, Executive Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, New York Field Office ( IRS-CI), announced the extradition and indictment.
“As alleged, the accused was a senior FARC official and used armed violence to protect a sophisticated operation that produced and distributed thousands of kilograms of cocaine globally, all to help fund the mission of the paramilitary group aiming to overthrow the Colombian government,” the U.S. peace attorney said.
Mr. Peace expressed his gratitude to the DEA office in Bogota, Colombia, the United States Marshals Service, the United States Department of State, the Office of International Affairs of the Department of Justice, the legal attachés of the Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Section (NDDS) of the Criminal Division. in Bogotá, the Colombian National Police, the Colombian government, the New York City Police Department (NYPD), and the New York State Police (NYSP).
Martin Leonel Perez Castro allegedly led the 30th FARC front and supervised the distribution of thousands of kilograms of cocaine
DEA Administrator Milgram said: “The charges demonstrate that this violent drug trafficking group imported tons of cocaine from Colombia to New York. Through dedicated and tireless efforts, the DEA and our global law enforcement partners brought this senior FARC official to justice in the United States.
“As the alleged senior FARC commander in Colombia, he is accused that Martin Leonel Perez Castro used violence and terrorist tactics to expand the FARC’s narcotics empire while distributing thousands of pounds of cocaine across the states. United and Europe. Today’s extradition is the start of a long road where Perez Castro will have to face American justice, and just as the FARC is dissolved, so will his freedom, “said the special agent in charge of the ‘IRS-CI, Fattorusso.
The FARC was founded in 1964 as a left-wing paramilitary group dedicated to the violent overthrow of the Colombian government. During decades of conflict, the FARC attacked Colombian government forces and used targeted assassinations, kidnappings and other terrorist tactics to achieve their ends. In October 1997, the US Secretary of State designated the FARC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). After the Colombian government and the FARC reached a peace agreement in 2016, the FARC was officially disbanded. On November 30, 2021, the US Secretary of State revoked FARC’s designation as an FTO. The accused’s conduct occurred before the 2016 peace accord.
The 30th Front, allegedly led by Perez Castro, supplied several thousand kilograms of cocaine to other drug trafficking organizations for distribution in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, sometimes attacking rival drug trafficking groups or the Colombian government forces to protect or expand FARC territory. As part of the investigation, law enforcement seized more than 2,500 kilograms of cocaine traceable to Perez Castro’s drug trafficking business. The seizures included over 1,000 kilograms of cocaine recovered from and near a large-scale laboratory co-owned by the accused.
The charges in the indictment are allegations and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If convicted, the accused faces life imprisonment.
The government’s case is handled by the Bureau’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Saritha Komatireddy and Andrew D. Wang are charged with the prosecution.