MIAMI – (CBS4) – A Miami grand jury has indicted a high-profile Colombian drug trafficker for his role in funneling cocaine through several South and Central American countries with the goal of selling drugs in the U.S.
The indictment alleges that Diego Perez Henao, aka Diego Rastrojo, 39, “conspired to manufacture and distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine knowing that the cocaine would be unlawfully imported into the United States,” according to the indictment issued by a Miami federal grand jury Tuesday.
Right now, Rastrojo is wanted in Colombia and remains at large. Once he’s captured, it could take six months to a year to extradite him to the United States. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida is working with the Colombian government to ease such extraditions.
“The Southern District of Florida is the first and best line of defense against the importation of mass quantities of cocaine into our borders,” said U.S. Attorney Wilfredo A. Ferrer in a statement.
Officials say that smaller, less organized drug cartels known as bandas criminales (BACRIMS) have sprouted throughout the region. Published reports say Rastrojo is among the most violent and powerful leader of the BACRIMS who has made alliances with one of the most notorious rebel groups in Colombia the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).
“Law enforcement’s success in removing the leadership of the major Colombian drug trafficking organizations has resulted in smaller groups, or bands of criminals, coming together to continue large scale importation of cocaine into the United States,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville in a statement. “Other BACRIM leaders and members should now know that they too are in the sights of the DEA.”