August 18, 2014
Contact: Public Information Officer
AUG 18 (BROOKLYN, N.Y.) - Earlier today, Jair Estupinan-Montano was arraigned at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, on charges relating to international narcotics trafficking. Estupinan- Montano was arrested in Panama on October 14, 2013, on a provisional arrest warrant issued from the Eastern District of New York.
The arraignment was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and James J. Hunt, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division.
According to court filings, prior to his arrest, Estupinan-Montano was the leader of a narcotics trafficking organization responsible for transporting shipments of cocaine from Colombia to locations in Central America and Mexico for ultimate delivery to the United States. Estupinan-Montano allegedly worked closely with the violent “Los Rastrojos” drug trafficking organization, a paramilitary organization that employed hundreds of individuals and controlled drug trafficking along the Pacific coast of Colombia.
Estupinan-Montano was responsible for arranging boats and submarines that transported the cocaine from Colombia to other members of his organization in Central America, who then transported the cocaine north to be sold to Mexican cartels for eventual shipment to the United States. A detention memo filed today by the government details that, between 2010 and 2012, the United States Coast Guard seized two ships and a semi-submersible vessel that had been sent from Colombia by Estupinan-Montano. In total, those vessels contained over 7,200 kilograms of cocaine when they originally left South America.
“Evoking Jules Verne, the defendant Estupinan-Montano relied on boats and submarines to ferry his illegal cargo, and was an essential link in the flow of illegal narcotics from Colombia to the United States,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “The illegal narcotics trade is a scourge, both in the United States and throughout the world. With the help of our international allies, we will continue to strike at those who enrich themselves off this violent industry wherever they are found.” Ms. Lynch thanked the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, comprised of officers and agents of the DEA, New York City Police Department and the New York State Police; the DEA’s Bogota Country Office and Panama Express Task Force; the United States Coast Guard; the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs; and the Republic of Panama for their help in investigating and capturing Estupinan-Montano.
The defendant was arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tyler Smith, Amir Toossi, Justin Lerer, and Robert Polemeni.