News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 9, 2002

DEA DIRECTOR ANNOUNCES ARRESTS OF COLOMBIAN TRAFFICKERS
Organization Operated in Three Continents

photo of HeroinDEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson today announced the arrest of drug kingpin Dolcey PADILLA-Padilla, ex-Colombian Senator Samuel Santander LOPESIERRA-Gutierrez, and 13 other members of their organization for drug trafficking.

The Colombian National Police (CNP) has culminated a 3-year investigation named Operation Conquista, with the coordinated execution of 37 search warrants and 15 U.S. Provisional Arrest Warrants in the Colombian cities of Barranquilla, Cartagena, Medellin, Maicao and Riohacha. As a result of this enforcement action, CNP seized over $1.2 million (US), 17 weapons and numerous documents from residences and businesses.

"Today we have dismantled a major cocaine and heroin organization with tentacles reaching into three continents. This joint effort by CNP and DEA has taken the wind out of the sails of an organization using international shipping to further their drug trade. Operation Conquista marks another success in the worldwide fight against drugs. Through the years, CNP has been one of DEA's closest allies in our anti-drug efforts," said Administrator Hutchinson.

This organization was responsible for the supply and transportation of multi-ton quantities of cocaine and multi-kilogram quantities of heroin through the Caribbean to the United States and Europe via maritime routes. Intelligence information obtained by the CNP during the course of this investigation was disseminated to DEA offices worldwide leading to the initiation of investigations targeting major criminal associates of PADILLA-Padilla and LOPESIERRA-Gutierez. Based on this information, approximately 3, 993 kilograms of cocaine, 35.5 kilograms of heroin, 900 kilograms of precursor chemicals, and $1.7 million dollars were seized.

For additional information, please contact Special Agent Will Glaspy at DEA's Office of Public Affairs at (202) 307-7977.

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