Feds: Colombian drug suspects extradited to Boston
By DENISE LAVOIE (AP)
Federal investigators said today they followed a trail of cash from Boston to Colombia – and are now bringing eight Colombians to Boston to face drug trafficking charges.
"What is unique about this case is that we normally follow the drug trail to the money," US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said today at a news conference in Boston. "In this case, the exact opposite was true.''
Ortiz said that, beginning in 2005, federal investigators discovered that drug cash was being delivered to Boston where it would land in the hands of professional money launderers before it worked its way back to the drug dealers in Colombia.
Officials said federal agents started posing as money launderers and were hired to handle some of the drug ring's cash. Over the past several years, investigators used the money trail to find where cocaine was arriving in the United States. They also tracked cocaine in Colombia.
During the five-year probe, officials said, investigators seized 2,900 kilograms of cocaine worth at least $100 million in the United States.
The cocaine shipped to the United States did not land directly in Boston, but could have ended up in the city or in Massachusetts through the illicit industry, officials said.
Five of the men have been arrested and extradited to the United States where they will now face trial in US District Court in Boston. Three other men are being held by Colombian authorities, but the Obama administration is pushing for the men to be sent to United States.
The five in custody were identified Leyvan Alvarez-Bastidas, 39, who is also known as "Ivan,” Hector Javier Castromeza, 47, known as “Pepe,”
Luis Alberto Zapata-Sanchez, 43, known as “El Negro,” Gustavo Castro-Caicedo, 50, known as “Luis Amaro,” Fidel Alberto Ruales-Vallejo, 36, known as “Cui.”
Still in Colombia are May Adolfo Morcillo-Molina, 29, known as “May,” Bernardo Alberto Merino-Cuaran, 27, known as "Gaviota,” and Alex Castro-Cortes, 34, known as ''Alex.''
The investigation was conducted by special agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration and criminal investigators from the Internal Revenue Service, officials said. Investigators from Colombia's Administrative Department of Security, the Colombian equivalent of the FBI, also participated.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press
By DENISE LAVOIE (AP)