A federal judge sentenced Jorge Mario Paredes-Cordova to 31 years in prison for leading an armed cocaine trafficking organization that imported ton-quantities into the U.S., the Drug Enforcement Administration has announced.
A jury found Paredes guility in November after a six-week trial before Manhattan Federal District Judge Deborah Batts on charges of cocaine importation and distribution.
"Jorge Mario Paredes-Cordova was once one of the worlds most notorious and dangerous drug kingpins," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. "Today, he begins serving a 31-year sentence as just another inmate of the United States Bureau of Prisons."
Parades led a Guatemala-based organization responsible for receiving ton-quantity shipments of Colombian cocaine in Central America and Mexico, and importing it into the U.S. over the Southwest border.
The organization's members worked with Colombian and Mexican cocaine kingpins such as Oscar Arriola-Marquez, Oscar Nava-Valencia, Manuel Felipe "Hoover" Salazar-Espinosa, and Daniel "Loco" Barrera. These men are Consolidated Priority Organization Targets, a DOJ list of suspects considered the most dangerous and prolific narcotics traffickers in the world.
From 1998 through 2005, Paredes and his organization participated in the importation or attempted importation of thousands of kilograms of cocaine, over one and a half tons of which were seized in the U.S. and Central America by law enforcement authorities, according to evidence presented at trial.
In addition to engaging in cocaine trafficking crimes, Paredes' organization was heavily armed. Boat crews dispatched by Paredes from Guatemala to receive cocaine shipments at sea carried AK-47 assault rifles, shotguns, and pistols. Paredes himself traveled with an armed contingent of bodyguards.
Paredes evaded capture for several years and protected his cocaine shipments from seizure by bribing law enforcement authorities in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. He was eventually captured in Honduras in 2008 while living there under a false identity, and transferred to the U.S. for prosecution.