Lowell Man Pleads Guilty in Cocaine Conspiracy Tied to Colombian Organized Crime
BOSTON – A Lowell man pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston to conspiring to distribute cocaine.
Miguel Colindres, 61, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. U.S. District Court Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for April 24, 2023. Colindres was arrested and charged on July 15, 2020 and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury on July 21, 2020.
Colindres conspired with members of La Oficina de Envigado (La Oficina), a criminal organization based in Medellín, Colombia to distribute five kilograms of cocaine. La Oficina originated in the 1980s when its members provided enforcement and collection services for the Medellín Cartel, including deceased Medellín Cartel leader Pablo Escobar. Today, La Oficina is allegedly involved in international narcotics trafficking, drug debt collection, money laundering, extortion and murder for hire.
It is alleged that co-defendants Fabio de Jesus Yepes Sanchez and Mario Zapata Velez were members of La Oficina who were tasked with collecting a $750,000 drug debt from two cocaine traffickers in Massachusetts. It is further alleged that Yepes and Zapata conspired with Colindres and others to obtain five kilograms of cocaine from the Massachusetts traffickers, sell those kilograms, and then repatriate the drug proceeds to Colombia, in partial satisfaction of the outstanding drug debt.
The charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison, a minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $10 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division made the announcement today. Valuable assistance in the investigation was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs of the Justice Department; Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; and the Government of Colombia. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lauren A. Graber and Jared C. Dolan of Rollins’ Criminal Division prosecuted the case.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.