Operation Panama Express
MAR 26--On March 18, 2004, Operation Panama Express target Joaquin Mario VALENCIA-Trujillo was extradited to the Middle District of Florida. VALENCIA faces multiple charges for cocaine and money laundering as a result of an investigation by Miami Field Division Tampa DO agents that commenced in FY 1999. VALENCIA was indicted in the Middle District in August 2003 and is responsible for moving more than 100 tons of cocaine yearly. VALENCIA was arrested in January 2003 in Colombia. VALENCIA was a key member of the Cali cartel and is believed to have amassed a fortune as high as $500 million. The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, Paul I. Perez said that the "extradition of Joaquin Mario VALENCIA-Trujillo is another landmark event for Operation Panama Express. U.S. Attorney Perez further stated that "this demonstrates the investigative scope of Panama Express encompasses not only the interdiction of over 260 tons of cocaine on the high seas by the United States Coast Guard, but tracing the drugs back to the ultimate suppliers and organizers and bringing them to justice in the United States." DEA Administrator Karen Tandy also applauded the investigation and this most recent development. Administrator Tandy said "this investigation proves we will hunt down these criminal wherever they hide. And they cannot find shelter behind stacks of money; not even $500 million is enough to shield them from justice and the rule of law."