Colombian "drug kingpin" Manuel Felipe Salazar Espinosa (aka Hoover) sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for drug trafficking tons of cocaine

Colombian "drug kingpin" Manuel Felipe Salazar Espinosa (aka Hoover) sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for drug trafficking tons of cocaine

JOHN P. GILBRIDE, the Special Agent-in-
Charge of the New York Office of the United
States Drug Enforcement Administration
("DEA") and MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United
States Attorney for the Southern District of
New York announced that MANUEL FELIPE
SALAZAR-ESPINOSA
, aka “Hoover,”
designated by the Justice Department as
one of the world’s most significant drug
kingpins, was sentenced this morning to a
term of thirty years in prison on narcotics
and money laundering charges. The
sentence was imposed by United States

District Judge LEWIS A. KAPLAN in
Manhattan federal court.
SALAZAR-ESPINOSA had been extradited
from Colombia in August 2006, after being
arrested there by Colombian authorities the
previous year. In June 2007, he was tried
before a federal jury in Manhattan on
cocaine importation conspiracy and money
laundering conspiracy charges, and
convicted on all counts.

DEA Special Agent in Charge JOHN GILBRIDE stated: "For years,
Manuel 'Hoover' Salazar-Espinosa operated a drug trafficking
organization with impunity. Today's sentencing proves that
international law enforcement can identify and bring to justice
individuals who think they will never have to pay a price for their
illegal activity. DEA stands firmly with our local and international law
enforcement partners in this battle against drugs. From the kingpins
to the street dealers our combined goal is to dismantle these drug
trafficking organizations and put them out of service."

According to documents filed in this case and the proof at trial:
SALAZAR-ESPINOSA conspired with Mexican cocaine cartel leaders
to import ton-quantities of Colombian cocaine, through Mexico, to
the United States on a weekly basis, and also assisted in the
laundering of $12 million to $14 million in narcotics proceeds per
week from 2002 to 2005. SALAZAR-ESPINOSA had been engaged
in the international cocaine trade since the 1980s, and was arrested
in Colombia in 2005 while planning a 1.3-ton cocaine shipment
destined for the United States. That shipment, which was concealed
in the arm of a crane, was seized in Panama in July 2005. When he
was arrested, SALAZAR-ESPINOSA was also planning another
shipment of 5 tons of cocaine that was to be flown from Colombia to
Mexico and then transported to New York City. Prior to his arrest
and conviction, SALAZAR-ESPINOSA had been designated by the
United States Government as a Consolidated Priority Organization
Target (“CPOT”). The CPOT list, compiled by the Department of
Justice in 2002 and updated annually, targets the world’s most
significant command and control organizations involved in the
narcotics and money laundering trade.

Mr. GARCIA praised the investigative efforts of the DEA’s New York
Drug Enforcement Task Force -- which includes agents and officers
of the DEA, New York City Police Department, and New York State
Police -- and the DEA’s Bogotá Country Office and Merida Resident
Office, and thanked the United States Marshals Service for its work
in effectuating the extradition. Mr. GARCIA also expressed his
gratitude to the Colombian Attorney General’s Office and Colombian
National Police, as well as the Colombian Department of
Administrative Security, for their cooperation in the investigation,
and foreign law enforcement authorities in Panama and Mexico for
their assistance in this case.

The terms of SALAZAR-ESPINOSA’s extradition from Colombia
required the United States to seek a sentence of a term of years,
rather than a life sentence. In sentencing SALAZAR-ESPINOSA, who
is 56 years of age, to a thirty-year term, Judge KAPLAN noted that
SALAZAR-ESPINOSA came from an upper-middle class background,
and “made a conscious decision to become a major narcotics
trafficker for pretty much the rest of his life.”

Judge KAPLAN noted that SALAZAR-ESPINOSA committed his
crimes “not because he knew of no other life, ... but because it was
an economic proposition, it was a way to make even more money,
vast amounts of money,” and that SALAZAR-ESPINOSA was a
“rational economic actor” in that he attempted to insulate himself
from criminal responsibility in the United States by working with
others who would complete the importation of the cocaine SALAZAR-
ESPINOSA conspired to import. Judge KAPLAN characterized this as
an “egregious miscalculation,” and also found significant the “sheer
size of the defendant’s activities,” including the “huge volume of
drugs” and narcotics proceeds for which the defendant was
responsible, and found that the defendant posed a “major recidivism
risk” since “the only life the defendant knows is international drug
trafficking.” Judge KAPLAN concluded by noting the defendant’s
age, and that “consistent with the spirit” of the Government’s
assurances to the Colombian government not to seek a life
sentence, he declined to impose a sentence that “inevitably would
be a life sentence.”

Mr. GARCIA stated: “Today's sentence puts an end to the 20 year
criminal career of Hoover Salazar, one of the world's most significant
cocaine kingpins, who moved tons of cocaine and tens of millions of
dollars in drug money. Salazar could not have been stopped without
the outstanding work of DEA agents in New York and abroad, and
our law enforcement partners in Colombia, Panama and Mexico.”

Assistant United States Attorneys IRIS LAN, ERIC SNYDER,
GURUANJAN SAHNI and ANIRUDH BANSAL
 are in charge of the
prosecution.

 "Hoover" being escorted after his arrest for drug trafficking

Source: United States Department Of Justice

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