Thursday, March 05, 2009

Colombia: Notorious Colombian paramilitary leader extradited to the United States to face drug trafficking charges

Miguel Angel Mejia-Munera, a/k/a "El Mellizo," was extradited today from Colombia to the United States to face narcotics trafficking charges, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Rita M. Glavin of the Criminal Division and Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

According to the indictment, Miguel Angel Mejia-Munera, together with his twin brother Victor, led a major Colombian narcotics trafficking organization known as "the Twins" or "Los Mellizos" Organization. Victor Mejia-Munera was killed in April 2008 in a gun battle with the Colombian military. Miguel Angel Mejia-Munera was also allegedly a leader of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), a Colombian right-wing paramilitary and drug-trafficking organization, designated by the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Miguel Angel Mejia-Munera, the alleged leader of the Bloque Arauca of the AUC, is an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF)-designated Consolidated Priority Organizational Target (CPOT).

According to the indictment, returned in the District of Columbia on Jan. 29, 2004, Miguel Angel Mejia-Munera and his organization were responsible for exporting multi-thousand kilogram quantities of cocaine from Colombia to Central America, Mexico and the United States from January 1994 to January 2004.

Miguel Angel Mejia-Munera is charged in the indictment with conspiracy to import five kilograms or more of cocaine into the United States and conspiracy to manufacture and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, with the intent to import the cocaine into the United States. He is also charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and with possessing and attempting to possess five kilograms or more of cocaine on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Mejia-Munera also faced charges in Colombia for his alleged criminal acts.

"Through today's extradition, Miguel Angel Mejia-Munera can now be held accountable in a U.S. court for the very serious crimes he is charged with committing," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Rita M. Glavin. "His arrival in the United States sends a message that neither the United States nor Colombia will tolerate this kind of criminal activity. The Department will continue to work in close cooperation with our Colombian law enforcement partners in combating the drug trafficking that has claimed victims in both our nations."

"The extradition of this drug kingpin closes the book on another major Colombia-based drug trafficking organization that not only was responsible for exporting massive quantities of cocaine destined for the United States, but also funded terrorist activities," said DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. "Miguel Angel Mejia-Munera's claim to have demobilized under Colombia's Justice and Peace Process is without legal merit since he refused prison confinement as is required by the Colombian Justice and Peace Law. His capture by the valiant efforts of the Colombian National Police and his extradition today underscore the resolve of our Colombian counterparts to continue working closely with us to dismantle drug and terrorist organizations."

An indictment is a formal charging document notifying the defendant of his charges. All persons charged by an indictment are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

If convicted of the charges against him, Miguel Angel Mejia-Munera faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The case is being prosecuted by attorneys from the Criminal Division's Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section. Significant assistant was provided by the Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs. The investigation in this case was led by the DEA.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
Putting principles before profits