La Oficina De Envigado Member Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Role in Drug Trafficking Conspiracy Tied to Medellín Cartel
BOSTON – A Colombian man has been sentenced in federal court in Boston for his role in a drug trafficking conspiracy connected to organized crime in the Republic of Colombia.
Mario Zapata Velez, 41, of Medellín, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin to five years in prison and three years of supervised release. In April 2023, Zapata pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy, one count of extortion conspiracy, two counts of interstate and foreign travel or transportation in aid of racketeering, one count of use of extortionate means to collect and attempt to collect an extension of credit and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Zapata Velez was indicted by a federal grand jury in May 2020 along with co-conspirators Fabio de Jesus Yepes Sanchez, Miguel Colindres and Juan Pablo Ariasgil.
Zapata Velez and Yepes Sanchez were members of La Oficina de Envigado (La Oficina), a criminal organization based in Medellín, Colombia. 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 involved in international narcotics trafficking, drug debt collection, money laundering, extortion and murder for hire.
Zapata Velez and Yepes Sanchez conspired to use threats to extort approximately $750,000 in drug debt from two cocaine traffickers based in Massachusetts. Zapata Velez and Yepes Sanchez also conspired with Colindres and Pablo Ariasgil 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.
In May 2022, Ariasgil was sentenced to four years in prison and four years of supervised release after previously pleading guilty to his role in the cocaine conspiracy. On April 24, 2023, Colindres was sentenced to 51 months in prison and three years of supervised release after previously pleading guilty to his role in the cocaine conspiracy. On June 27, 2023, Yepes Sanchez pleaded guilty to his role in the cocaine conspiracy, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 5, 2023.
Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy 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; the 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 the 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.