Erminso Cuevas Cabrera, a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) operative who according to authorities once was responsible for half the world’s cocaine production, has been sentenced to 29 years in prison by a judge in New York.
Cuevas Cabrera, who had been accused of directing the production of massive quantities of the drug in hidden jungle laboratories controlled by the FARC, had been found guilty of conspiring to import tons of the narcotic into the United States.
Cuevas Cabrera, 49, was responsible for at least half the world's supply of cocaine from 1998-2004, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Cuevas Cabrera, who goes by the alias “Mincho,” conspired with others to manufacture and distribute tons of cocaine in Colombia with the intention to smuggle it into the United States.
Cuevas Cabrera also coordinated the sale and transportation of the cocaine manufactured in those laboratories, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
“The guilty [verdict] … strike significant blows against the FARC’s cocaine-trafficking operations and further disrupt the primary source of income of an incredibly dangerous foreign terrorist organization,” Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, told reporters.
Cuevas Cabrera is the brother of Fabián Ramírez, the FARC’s Southern Bloc commander and former leader of the group’s 14th Front, according to EFE.
The sentence dealt to Cuevas Cabrera is the latest in a series of stiff prison terms given to FARC members recently convicted in the United States.
Gerardo Aguilar Ramírez, a former FARC commander, was sentenced to 27 years in prison after being found guilty of conspiring to send tons of cocaine to the United States.
Aguilar Ramírez, 50, was extradited by Colombian officials in July 2009 so he could face drug trafficking charges. Aguilar Ramírez, who goes by the alias “César,” also was accused of playing a major role in holding three American defense contractors, as well as Franco-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, hostage for years.
He was arrested by the Colombian army in July 2008. “The incarceration of narco-terrorists like Aguilar Ramírez helps to choke the international drug trade,” Bharara said in a statement. “This office will continue to work with our partners at the (Drug Enforcement Administration) to incapacitate dangerous narco-terrorists who seek to pour drugs into the United States.”
Juanito Córdoba Bermudez, a member of the FARC’s 57th Front, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization. He faces 15 years in prison when he’s expected to be sentenced on Feb. 9, 2011 in a Manhattan (N.Y.) federal court.
Córdoba Bermudez was arrested in Panama in 2008 and was transferred to United States’ custody in May 2009.
“The 57th Front is one of the most violent elements of the FARC,” Bharara said in a statement. “[The] guilty plea demonstrates our resolve to bring to justice not only the FARC’s guerilla members, but also those people who enable the FARC’s terrorist activities by providing logistical support.”