In a significant development in the fight against international drug trafficking, two Colombian nationals have been sentenced for their involvement in a large-scale cocaine distribution conspiracy. Mauricio Mazabel-Soto, aged 45, and Alfredo Molina-Cutiva, aged 53, were sentenced to 73 months and 70 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in conspiring to distribute substantial quantities of cocaine for importation into the United States. The defendants had ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a notorious terrorist group. The case unfolded after a long-term investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), revealing the defendants’ connections and activities in drug trafficking logistics in southwestern Colombia. The article further highlights the defendants’ audacious proposition to a representative of a Mexican drug cartel, offering to produce and distribute large quantities of cocaine while using designer stamps with the Detroit Tigers Major League Baseball team logo. The successful prosecution of these individuals is a significant step towards disrupting the illegal drug trade network and upholding justice.
Colombian Nationals Sentenced for International Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy
Two Colombian nationals, Mauricio Mazabel-Soto and Alfredo Molina-Cutiva, have been sentenced to prison for their involvement in an international cocaine distribution conspiracy. The defendants were found to have ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a terrorist group. U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Regional Director Omar Arellano announced the sentencing.
Mazabel-Soto and Molina-Cutiva were each sentenced to 73 months and 70 months in prison, respectively. The charges against them included conspiring to distribute large quantities of cocaine for importation into the United States. These sentences send a clear message that drug trafficking will not be tolerated, and that those involved will face significant consequences.
Investigation and Arrests
The DEA launched an investigation in 2018 into large-scale drug traffickers with ties to FARC. Mazabel-Soto, during this investigation, claimed to have the authority to enter into cocaine production agreements on behalf of FARC. He presented Molina-Cutiva as being responsible for FARC’s drug trafficking logistics in southwestern Colombia. Additionally, the defendants stated that Molina-Cutiva oversaw FARC’s cocaine laboratories in Huila and Caqueta, Colombia, and facilitated the exportation of cocaine across the Ecuadorian border.
During recorded meetings, Mazabel-Soto and Molina-Cutiva offered to produce significant amounts of cocaine for an individual they believed represented a major Mexican drug cartel. In one meeting, they proposed an agreement where the Mexican cartel would invest $2 million in their business, and FARC would construct a cocaine laboratory exclusively for the cartel. The initial 1,000 kilograms of cocaine produced would be free, with subsequent shipments costing $1,600 per kilogram. They even agreed to place designer stamps on each kilogram, including the logo of the Detroit Tigers Major League Baseball team.
In April 2019, Mazabel-Soto provided a five-kilogram “sample” of cocaine to another individual in Bogota, Colombia, as a demonstration of quality. He received $11,000 for this sample, and DEA lab results showed that the cocaine was 96% pure.
Arrests and Extraditions
On June 25, 2019, Mazabel-Soto was arrested in Colombia and extradited to the United States on April 16, 2021. Molina-Cutiva was arrested in Colombia on August 8, 2019, and extradited to the United States on January 25, 2021. Another co-defendant, Aldemar Soto-Charry, was arrested in Colombia on August 8, 2019, and is currently awaiting extradition.
Defendants’ Guilty Pleas
Both Molina-Cutiva and Mazabel-Soto pleaded guilty in separate times. Molina-Cutiva entered his guilty plea in November 2022, while Mazabel-Soto pleaded guilty in December 2022. As part of their plea agreements, the defendants admitted their involvement in conspiring to distribute at least 1,000 kilograms of cocaine. This quantity represented the total amount involved in their criminal activities.
In sentencing the defendants, the court considered the severity of their crimes and the potential harm caused by international drug trafficking. Mazabel-Soto received a sentence of 73 months in prison, while Molina-Cutiva was sentenced to 70 months. These significant prison terms serve as a deterrent to others who may consider engaging in similar criminal activities.
Ties to Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
The involvement of Mazabel-Soto and Molina-Cutiva in an international cocaine distribution conspiracy unveiled their connections to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). FARC, designated as a terrorist group, is notorious for its involvement in drug trafficking and other criminal activities. The defendants’ representation of themselves as authorized representatives of FARC highlights the organization’s infiltration into the drug trade.
The DEA played a crucial role in uncovering and investigating this international cocaine distribution conspiracy. Their agents devoted significant time and resources to gather evidence, record meetings, and dismantle the criminal network involved. The DEA’s expertise and collaboration with other law enforcement agencies were instrumental in bringing these defendants to justice.
During their interactions with the undercover individual, Mazabel-Soto and Molina-Cutiva portrayed themselves as key figures within FARC and the drug trafficking operations in Colombia. They claimed responsibility for overseeing FARC’s cocaine laboratories and international logistics, presenting themselves as indispensable to the production and distribution of cocaine.
These representations not only demonstrated the defendants’ active involvement in the criminal enterprise but also emphasized the extent of FARC’s drug trafficking operations. By associating themselves with FARC, Mazabel-Soto and Molina-Cutiva sought to exploit the group’s reputation and connections for their illicit activities.
The successful prosecution of Mazabel-Soto and Molina-Cutiva was the result of dedicated efforts by the prosecution team. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Rosenberg and Anthony Scarpelli, along with former Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Goddard, played instrumental roles in building and presenting the case against the defendants. Their expertise in drug trafficking and commitment to pursuing justice ensured a strong and compelling prosecution.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office commends the work and collaboration of investigative agencies involved in this case. The DEA’s Bogota Country office, the FBI LEGAT Bogota, and the FBI Miami Field Office contributed significant resources and support to the investigation. Their dedication and expertise were vital in unraveling the complex dynamics of the international cocaine distribution conspiracy.
The efforts of the prosecutors and law enforcement agencies involved highlight the commitment to combatting drug trafficking and international criminal networks. Their work goes beyond securing convictions; it disrupts the flow of drugs and dismantles the infrastructure that enables such illegal activities.
In conclusion, the sentencing of Mazabel-Soto and Molina-Cutiva sends a strong message to individuals involved in international drug trafficking. The collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies and the commitment of the prosecution team have resulted in significant prison terms for the defendants. This outcome underscores the determination to hold accountable those who contribute to the global drug trade and jeopardize the safety and well-being of communities around the world.