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FBI Extradites Colombian Cartel Leader For Trial

February 10, 2010  | 

Federal agents have brought reputed Colombian cartel leader Salomon Camacho Mora from Venezuela to New Jersey to face federal conspiracy, drug trafficking and money laundering charges, the FBI announced.

Camacho, 65, is a citizen of Colombia and is known by the aliases "Papa Grande," "El Viejo" and "Hector." He was arrested in Valencia, Venezuela, on Jan. 13 by Venezuelan authorities. Camacho had been a New Jersey FBI fugitive for more than eight years.

Camacho was originally indicted in September 2002 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. On Aug. 9, 2005, a grand jury returned an eight-count indictment charging Camacho and four co-defendants with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, five counts of laundering of monetary instruments and two counts related to narcotics trafficking.

Camacho's trial is scheduled for April 13.

According to the indictment, Camacho and members of his drug organization purchased multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine from processing laboratories in Colombia and arranged for the transportation of the loads to Venezuelan shipping ports.

Once the shipments arrived in Venezuela, Camacho and co-conspirators allegedly sold cocaine to other drug trafficking organizations operating in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Camacho and his co-conspirators also arranged for maritime transportation of drug shipments to Puerto Rico and the United States, where they later sold the cocaine. According to the indictment, the alleged drug transactions generated large profits for the defendants, which they then wire-transferred out of the U.S. using various bank accounts.

According to the U.S. Department of State, Camacho allegedly began his drug trafficking career in the 1980s with the Medellin cartel, then became partners with Alberto Orlandez Gamboa, a powerful leader of the Colombian North Coast Cartel.

Camacho allegedly had a series of other drug trafficking partnerships, including with the Orejuela brothers of the Cali Cartel and, from 1998 to the present, he worked in partnership with Hermagoras Gonzalez Polanco in what is often referred to as the Guajira Cartel, a State Department advisory indicated.

The State Department advisory alleges that Camacho and Gonzalez Polanco were responsible for sending many tons of cocaine to the U.S., including as much as 9 metric tons between 1999 and 2000. They reportedly maintained strong ties to Dominican drug trafficking organizations, which paid for the drugs. The Guajira Cartel is known to use violence, intimidation, extortion, and murder to further their organization's success. The State Department offered a $5 million reward for Camacho's arrest.

"We consider Salomon Camacho Mora a significant figure in the drug trafficking underworld," said Kevin Cruise, an acting FBI special agent in Newark.

On the narcotics charges, Camacho faces a statutory mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, a statutory maximum of life in prison, and fines of up to $4 million or twice the amount of profits he gained from his illegal conduct. Camacho also faces up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine on the money laundering charges.

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