Fabio Ochoa Convicted on U. S. Drug Charges
A Miami federal jury Wednesday convicted Fabio Ochoa on drug conspiracy and money-laundering charges based on his role in a conspiracy to ship 30 tons of cocaine per month into the United States from 1997-1999. He was extradited by Colombian authorities to the United States in September of 2001. Ochoa, along with his brothers, Pablo Escobar and others made up the Medellin Cartel in the 1980s, and existed until Escobar's death in 1993.
"It's tremendously gratifying, and I speak for agents past and present," said Miami Special Agent in Charge Tom Raffanello. The conviction should "send shock waves to his compadres."
Ochoa was extradited to stand trial on charges emanating from Operation Millennium, a 1999 case which targeted Alejandro Bernal Madrigal (aka Juvenal) cocaine trafficking organization.
In addition to drug trafficking, Ochoa was indicted by a federal grand jury for his involvement in the murder of informant Adler "Barry" Seal weeks before Seal was supposed to testify against Ochoa's older brother, Jorge Luis.
As part of the Medellin Cartel, Ochoa and his confederates waged a campaign of terror and bribery to pressure the Colombian government to prohibit the extradition of native Colombians. Pablo Escobar and several other Medellin leaders, labeled "The Extraditables," took increasingly violent measures to try to force the government to accept legislation that would protect them from extradition. The cartel was responsible for the assassination of dozens of government officials, and the bribery of many more. In July 1991, the Colombian congress adopted a new constitution that prohibited the extradition of Colombian natives, handing a major victory to the Medellin Cartel.
Several months prior, in December 1990, Ochoa surrendered to Colombian authorities and served prison time from 1991 to 1997. Ochoa ran his drug operation from prison during this time.
Ochoa's 1990 surrender began the demise of the Medellin cartel. A month after Felix' arrest, his brother Jorge Luis surrendered to Colombian authorities. That same month, the Colombian National Police killed David Ricardo Prisco Lopera, who served as Pablo Escobar's top assassin, along with his younger brother Armando Alberto Prisco. The Priscos were wanted for ordering the murders of 50 Medellin police officers, for several terrorist bombings, and for nine assassinations, including that of a Colombian Justice Minister in 1984. In February 1991, a third Ochoa brother, Juan David surrendered.
Sentencing for Fabio Ochoa will take place in Miami on August 19th.