February 05, 2014
Contact: Public Information Officer
FEB 05 (MANHATTAN, N.Y.) —James J. Hunt, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that Yesid Rios Suarez pled guilty on February 4, 2013 in Manhattan federal court in connection with his role in overseeing the manufacture of tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine in clandestine laboratories in Colombia, and the distribution and importation of tons of cocaine to the United States and other countries. Rios Suarez, a citizen of Colombia, who was originally charged in September 2011, pled guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Yesid Rios Suarez has admitted his role in the manufacture, distribution, and importation into the U.S. of tons of Colombian cocaine. As a man who stands convicted by guilty plea of spending two decades in the cocaine business, he now faces the prospect of a lengthy prison term.”
DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said: “This is a significant international drug trafficker responsible for facilitating addiction and heartache for individuals and communities across the country. Thanks to our vast network of law enforcement and sources throughout the world, DEA and our partners successfully infiltrated his prolific drug enterprise and Mr. Suarez will now face the consequences for his criminal life.”
According to the Indictment and statements made at related court proceedings:
Between in or about 1992 until his arrest in Venezuela in or about 2011, Rios Suarez, along with his co-conspirators, oversaw the manufacture of tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine in clandestine laboratories that they operated in the Arauca department of Colombia and other areas of Colombia near the Venezuelan border. During that time, Rios Suarez and his co-conspirators also oversaw the distribution of tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela to the United States and other countries through various intermediate shipping points. Specifically, once the cocaine had been manufactured in laboratories in Colombia, Rios Suarez worked with others to launch planes carrying multi-hundred-kilogram loads of cocaine from clandestine landing strips operated by Rios Suarez and his co-conspirators in Colombia and Venezuela. All told, prior to his arrest in 2011, Rios Suarez worked for nearly two decades overseeing critical steps in the manufacture, distribution, and importation into the United States and other countries of tons of cocaine.
Rios Suarez, 46, of Colombia, pled guilty to one count of participating in a conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States, and to manufacture and distribute cocaine knowing and intending that it would be imported into the United States. Rios Suarez faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison. Rios Suarez is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Forrest on June 6, 2014, at 10:00 a.m.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding efforts of the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force and the Bogota Country Office; the Government of the Republic of Colombia; and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.