Miami Drug Smuggler Pleads Guilty, Has His Plane Taken Away
A 50-year-old Colombian drug kingpin was fined $1 million and sentenced to 22 years in prison Wednesday by a federal judge in Miami. And that was the plea deal.
Edgar Vellejo-Guarin was indicted in 2001 after Coast Guard officers discovered 4,000 kilograms of cocaine on a freighter in the Caribbean and traced much of it to him, according to a Department of Justice statement. Vellejo-Guarin went on the lam until September 2008, when he was arrested in Spain, extradited to the U.S. and slapped with a pretty hefty life-ruining.
In addition to the $1 million fine, the U.S. Attorney's Office seized his $2 million airplane and more than $10 million in "drug proceeds" stashed in American, Swiss and Austrian bank accounts. It's not clear where they think he's going to get the money for the fine after all of this, but it seems a fair price to pay for getting busted using freighters and airplanes to bring cocaine into Miami, New York, Houston, Detroit, Chicago and San Juan.
South American drug cartels are having a pretty ugly summer: Infamous Norte Valle enforcer Oscar Varela García was sentenced to 45 years in jail in late May, then the former head of Bolivia's anti-narcotics police unit pled guilty to trying to smuggle coke into Miami. Better luck next time, gentlemen. We'll keep an eye on your planes and boats and women until you get out around 2050.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.