Washington, May 22, 2015
Targets Members of a Colombian Maritime Drug Trafficking Organization
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today designated José Berley Guarín Loaiza as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) for his significant role in international narcotics trafficking. In addition, OFAC designated five other criminal associates of the Guarín Loaiza drug trafficking organization and three businesses in Colombia and Panama. As a result of today’s action, all assets of those designated that are based in the United States or that are in the control of U.S. persons are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
Guarín Loaiza is the head of a Colombian drug trafficking network that specializes in transporting cocaine shipments via “go-fast boats” – small, fast boats which can be difficult to detect and intercept – from the northern Colombian coast as well as Venezuela. Guarín Loaiza has been actively trafficking narcotics since at least 2010, primarily to Central America. He has established relationships with other narcotics trafficking organizations in Central America and Mexico, as well as other cocaine suppliers within Colombia.
“With close ties to drug trafficking organizations throughout Latin America, the cocaine shipments and other illicit activities of the Guarín Loaiza drug trafficking network have had an expanding, alarming reach,” said Acting OFAC Director John E. Smith. “Today’s action marks a critical step in halting this organization and takes a holistic approach, by targeting not only Guarín Loaiza and his supporters, but also the maritime supply chain used to move the cocaine.”
Other designated individuals include Colombian nationals Herman de Jesus Medina Diaz, Gustavo Bolivar Zapata, Alexis Manuel Romero Rodriguez, and Luis Carlos Bustamante Jaramillo. Guarín Loaiza and these four individuals, who materially supported his narcotics activities, were indicted in March 2014 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida on narcotics-related charges.
OFAC also designated Colombian national Walter Varela Victoria for his significant role in international narcotics trafficking. Varela Victoria is a long-time supplier of go-fast vessels and associated maritime equipment for various narcotics trafficking organizations operating from the northern coast of Colombia. Varela Victoria utilizes an established distribution network and his maritime company Megayates Ltda in Cartagena, Colombia to materially assist the narcotics trafficking activities of Guarín Loaiza’s network. The two other companies designated today, Quality Autos S.A. and Freezer Air Contractor S.A., are Panamanian companies that are owned or controlled by Guarín Loaiza.
Today’s action follows a lengthy investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Miami Field Division.
Since June 2000, more than 1,700 entities and individuals have been named pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their role in international narcotics trafficking. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.
For a chart relating to today’s actions click here (PDF 408 KB).
To see the identifying information relating to today’s actions, click here.
For a complete listing of designations pursuant to the Kingpin Act, click here (PDF 13B).