[CAPOS KEEP ASKING FOR RELEASE BECAUSE OF FEAR OF CORONAVIRUS. IRONIC, BECAUSE IT DOESN'T SEEM THEY HAD ANY EMPATHY FOR ALL THEY KILLED]
Former Medellin cartel drug lord Ochoa seeks early release from prison
Posted Apr 21, 2020 at 4:38 PM
ST. PETERSBURG — One of three Colombian brothers who authorities say once were key operators of the notorious Medellin cartel’s multibillion-dollar cocaine smuggling enterprise in Florida is seeking early release from U.S. prison because of changes in federal sentencing guidelines.
The attorney for Fabio Ochoa Vasquez, 62, wants a federal judge to cut his 30-year prison sentence by about five years. That would effectively result in his release from prison and deportation to Colombia, said lawyer Richard Klugh.
“Now that there has been a change, retroactively, the statute now authorizes a reduction in sentence,” Klugh said. “He wants to go back to Colombia. That’s where his family is.”
The U.S. attorney’s office in Miami did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore directed prosecutors to file a response by May 1 regarding Ochoa’s request.
Ochoa is the youngest of three brothers who U.S. authorities say in the 1980s ran the Miami distribution center of the cocaine cartel once headed by Pablo Escobar. Ochoa was at various times named in several U.S. indictments, including one in Louisiana that said he had a role in the killing of Drug Enforcement Administration informant Barry Seal — whose life was popularized in somewhat fictional form in the 2017 film “American Made” starring Tom Cruise.
Ochoa was initially arrested in 1990 in Colombia under a government program promising drug kingpins would not be extradited to the U.S. At the time, he was on the U.S. list of the “Dozen Most Wanted” Colombia drug lords and officials say he essentially ran the cartel at the time with his brothers Jorge Luis and Juan David.
Almost a decade later, Ochoa was arrested again in Colombia and extradited to the U.S. in 2001 as part of a drug trafficking indictment in Miami naming more than 40 people. Of those, Ochoa was the only one who opted to go to trial, resulting in his conviction and the 30-year sentence. The other defendants got much lighter prison terms because most of them cooperated with the government, according to Klugh’s court filing.
The key to Ochoa’s request for a reduced sentence is that in this particular case, only about 150 kilograms of cocaine could be directly attributed to him, Klugh said. Therefore, Klugh contends, under the revised sentencing guidelines his sentence should be about 24 years rather than 30.
“The effect of that would be the top guideline no longer started out at 150 (kilograms) but at a much higher number,” he said.
That would translate into time served for Ochoa, allowing for his release from prison, Klugh said.
Ochoa has a wife and three grown children in Colombia, court records show. He served about eight years in a Colombian prison after his initial arrest related to the Medellin cartel operations, focusing after his release on breeding horses until he was extradited to the U.S.
“In sum, Ochoa has been punished for both the offense and his criminal history more severely than any other defendant in this case, despite the fact he is at the lowest level of the conspiracy,” Klugh wrote in court papers.
[NOW WE HAVE A CALI CARTEL HEAD, WORRIED ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS. NAME GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ OREJUELA]
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — One of the most notorious Colombian cocaine cartel kingpins will not be released early from a U.S. prison over claims of ill health and fears of the deadly effects on him of a potential coronavirus infection, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno found that Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, the 81-year-old former chieftain of the Cali cartel, did not have serious enough health problems to merit early release. The judge also said doing so would be a blow to the U.S. justice system.
The cartel led by Rodriguez Orejuela and his brother, Miguel, smuggled over 200,000 kilograms (441,000 pounds) of cocaine worth more than $2.1 billion into the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s. The organization succeeded the Medellin cartel once run by drug lord Pablo Escobar. Both used violence and killings extensively for intimidation and enforcement.
“The court can only imagine the far-reaching, destructive effects of this much cocaine in the United States,” Moreno wrote. “How many thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of lives were affected?"
Rodriguez Orejuela has served about half of a 30-year prison sentence imposed after he and his brother reached a 2006 plea deal with federal prosecutors in Miami. His attorney, David O. Markus, said he is “saddened and disappointed” by the decision.
“We should let old and sick inmates die at home with their families, not alone in a prison cell," Markus said in an email.
In his argument for compassionate release, court documents show Rodriguez Orejuela suffers from a range of health problems including colon cancer, prostate cancer, two heart attacks, high blood pressure, skin cancer, gout, chronic anxiety and depression. The documents paint a picture of a frail old man who often must use a walker and frequently visits the infirmary at his prison in Butner, North Carolina.
The coronavirus that has killed tens of thousands of people worldwide, and has been a problem in many jails and prisons, is another concern, the documents say.
Prosecutors acknowledged that Rodriguez Orejuela has multiple health issues but added that he can still get around and generally take care of himself under medical supervision.
Moreno ruled that those health problems are not enough to merit compassionate release — even under the possible threat of the coronavirus.
“Rodriguez Orejuela's medical condition, while far from perfect, is also far from extraordinary and compelling,” the judge wrote.
Under the brothers’ 2006 plea deal, more than two dozen family members were removed from a Treasury Department list designating them as part of the Cali cartel. That spared some of them from prosecution for obstruction of justice or money laundering and also allowed legitimate family businesses in Colombia to continue operating.
As of now, Rodriguez Orejuela's prison release date is Feb. 9 2030, when he would be in his early 90s. His brother, 76-year-old Miguel, is serving his sentence at a Pennsylvania prison.
In a separate case, a different Miami federal judge is weighing whether to permit early release of Fabio Ochoa, 62, a former leader of the Medellin cartel. Ochoa's lawyer argues he should get out of prison because of a change in sentencing guidelines that would shave five years off his 30-year sentence.
They are all paying the piper or their dues.It would be an interesting interview to ask them if they had to do it all over again would they do it differently besides the obvious of sorry they got caught.Was the 1 st 40 years of their lives worth the locked up last 40 years with no freedom or power?...Hmmmm everything’s a trade off in life but their lives are so much more extreme and dramatic than ours!
American Prison has broken all major Capos from Latin America. It caused the Colombians to forget about trafficking to the US and focus on Europe.
This post was updated on .
Margarito Flores now is playing the Covid card.
[WE READ TONIGHT THAT Z-40 MIGHT HAVE CONTRACTED THE VIRUS. NOW WE HAVE ANOTHER CAPO WANTING OUT OF JAIL. IT'S KIND OF IRONIC, ISN'T IT?]
El Chapo envoy in Chicago, Margarito Flores, plays COVID card to get out of jail
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A once-trusted Chicago henchman for notorious drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is asking to be released from federal prison because of the continuing threat from COVID-19.
An attorney for Margarito Flores filed a sealed request for Flores to be released from prison claiming that the virus constitutes "extraordinary and compelling reasons" warranting his release, U.S. prosecutors in Chicago said.
The government is opposing his release and used the opportunity to lodge a new, public allegation against Flores and his also-imprisoned twin brother Pedro, claiming that they lied to authorities during their cooperation and secretly stashed money in violation of their federal agreement.
Federal investigators seized more than $4 million from them during the investigation, money that they tried to hide at the time according to the government-and there have always been questions about whether additional cash had been buried, literally, for their families, and themselves once they were released.
The "government no longer holds the view that all recoverable proceeds were turned over to the government," prosecutors wrote in a footnote to the current filing, which concludes Margarito shouldn't be set free.
"It clearly means that Flores lied to them about some sum of money" said ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago. "It's not something he was honest about at sentencing presumably. It's something they recently learned about. The government wants it to factor into the judge's decision to deny the request," Soffer said on Tuesday.
The Flores twins were El Chapo's top Chicago operatives during the Sinaloa cartel's iron-clad control of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine sales in Middle America and the Eastern Seaboard.
"In total, while they ran their drug trafficking operation, the Flores brothers caused approximately $1,823,415,000 (billion) in drug proceeds to be laundered from the United States to Mexico, money that was paid to cartel leaders and acquired by the Flores brothers as profits," say U.S. prosecutors in the new court filing.
As the I-Team has reported on numerous occasions, the Sinaloa cartel was responsible for 80% of illicit drug sales in Chicago for more two decades
There are no details provided in the government's filing of where Flores (or his brother) are being held because they are known to be held under witness protection within the prison system.
Some I-Team sources with knowledge of the cartel case say that Margarito Flores is due to be released in August having completed the required portion of a 14 year sentence.
Prosecutors state that he is mistakenly asking for a court to intervene and order his early release when federal regulations require that an administrative appeal be made with the Bureau of Prisons.
"In his motion, defendant states that he was unable to file an administrative appeal due to his recent hospitalization for a tooth abscess. However, since May 13, 2020, defendant was returned to his institution and, as of the date of this filing, has yet to file an appeal of the Warden's denial of his request for compassionate release" prosecutors said.
The twin brothers, from Chicago's Little Village neighborhood, decided to cooperate with U.S. drug agents in 2008, and at great personal risk they covertly recorded conversations with El Chapo.
They were among the top informants ever "flipped" by federal authorities and Margarito Flores is considered the highest-ranking convict to be asking for COVID-19 relief, according to Soffer.
"The drug trafficking and violence. He's got to be at the top of the list who are most infamous trying to get out of jail early" said Soffer.
Soffer said he doesn't believe Flores will get out early and says the government could file new charges against both brothers for perjury and obstruction of justice following allegations of hidden cash.
[POLITICIANS AND CAPOS, NARCISSTIC SOCIOPATHS. KNOWING NO FEELINGS FOR ANYONE BUT THEIRSELVES. POWER AT ANY COSTS]
Might not be in his best interests to get out early.Chino thought that way and look what happened1
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