Nine multinational cocaine traffickers indicted


Date: October 20, 2022


A ten-count indictment was unsealed today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York charging defendants Carlos Ernesto Angucho Guerrero, Eduard Mauricio Rendón Agudelo, Clemente Riascos Coral, Luis Fernando Sánchez Isaza, Alejandro Alberto Estupiñan Alzate, Belcy Gómez Murcia, Diego Fernando Cerón Muñoz, Jhon Armando Panta Gutiérrez, and Carlos Adolfo Meza Sánchez, with an international cocaine-distribution conspiracy that resulted in the attempted distribution of thousands of kilograms of cocaine destined for the United States.

Estupiñan Alzate was extradited to the Eastern District of New York from Colombia today. The defendant was arraigned this morning before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes, Jr., and ordered detained pending trial.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Frank A. Tarentino, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); New York Division; Michael Alfonso, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York; Keechant L. Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD); and Steven A. Nigrelli, First Deputy Superintendent, New York State Police (NYSP), announced the charges.

"As alleged, the defendants' attempt to traffic thousands of kilograms of cocaine into our communities was stopped by the coordinated cross-border efforts of law enforcement," stated United States Attorney Peace. "This Office is working tirelessly with our international and domestic law enforcement partners to hold these narcotics distributors accountable and dismantle their criminal enterprise."

Mr. Peace expressed his appreciation to the Dirección Antinarcoticos, Unidad Especializada Contra el Tráfico de Cocaina and Sensitive Investigative Unit of the Colombian National Police and the Ecuadorian National Police's Sensitive Investigations Unit for their assistance.

"This investigation shut down a drug pipeline that shipped multi-ton quantities of cocaine from clandestine laboratories in the jungles of Colombia to the streets of the United States," said DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Tarentino. "I commend the men and women in the New York Strike Force, U.S. Attorney's Office Eastern District of New York, DEA Special Operations Division, DEA Bogota Country Office, and the Colombian National Police for their diligent efforts to intercept and identify the organization responsible for trafficking this significant amount of poison."

"HSI, in collaboration with our partners at the New York Strike Force, leverages every resource across the globe to stem the tide of illegal substances into our communities. It's a direct result of these multi-lateral relationships that law enforcement successfully disrupted the drug trafficking organization's capability to profit from threatening our public safety," said HSI New York Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Alfonso.

"Today's charges demonstrate that the investigative efforts of New York City law enforcement are far-reaching, precisely focused, and patient," stated NYPD Commissioner Sewell. "As long as individuals – wherever they are based – are involved in illegal narcotics trafficking, the NYPD and our partners will relentlessly work to stop the threat to public safety. I commend and thank all of our local, state, and federal colleagues who took part in this New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation for their tireless efforts in building this strong, multinational conspiracy case."

As alleged in the charging documents, between December 2016 and October 2017, the defendants belonged to an international drug trafficking organization and conspired to coordinate the transportation of thousands of kilograms of cocaine from laboratories in the rural areas of Cauca and Nariño in southwestern Colombia to the Pacific Coast of Colombia and/or Ecuador. The organization regularly operated in Ecuador, using land routes to transport cocaine from laboratories to the Pacific Coast of Ecuador. To distribute these drugs internationally, the criminal enterprise shipped cocaine via sea vessels, including submarines, in the eastern Pacific Ocean and by land in Central America to Mexico, en route to the United States.

Using intelligence from sources including lawfully intercepted calls and communications, this investigation revealed that these sophisticated criminal co-conspirators operated in multiple countries to coordinate the shipment of thousands of kilograms of cocaine ultimately destined for the United States. As a result of the investigation, law enforcement successfully seized multiple-hundred-kilograms of cocaine traced to this criminal organization.

If convicted, Estupiñan Alzate faces a mandatory term of 10 years in prison and up to life in prison.

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The charges are the result of an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation led by the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York and the New York Strike Force. The New York OCDETF Strike Force is housed at the DEA's New York Division and includes agents and officers of the DEA; the U. S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division; the New York City Police Department; the New York State Police; Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the U.S. Marshals Service; New York National Guard; U.S. Coast Guard; Port Washington Police Department; Suffolk County District Attorney's Office and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. 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. OCDETF uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

The government's case is being handled by the Office's International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Margaret Schierberl and Chand Edwards-Balfour are in charge of the prosecution. The Justice Department's Office of International Affairs and the Criminal Division's Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS) Judicial Attachés in Bogotá, Colombia provided valuable assistance in the investigation and with securing the arrest and extradition of Estupiñan Alzate.