Colombian Drug Lord “El Loco” May Avoid Life In Prison

Colombian drug lord Daniel “El Loco” Barrera pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to trafficking tons of cocaine into the U.S., but the terms of his extradition from Colombia may disqualify him from a maximum life in prison. Daniel Barrera Barrera, 48, aka, Loco Barrera, a citizen of Colombia, worked with two Colombian terrorist organizations to manufacture and distribute thousands of kilograms of cocaine per year. To ensure his drugs could be produced in peace, and make it out of the country securely, Barrera paid protection money to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a notorious former right-wing paramilitary group and FARC rival.

He also had contacts with numerous other criminal groups like Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel. These alliances gave him a measure of protection from his rivals, which included some of Colombia’s most storied drug traffickers. Barrera’s career began in the 1980s when he and his brother Omar Barrera provided chemical precursors to laboratories processing coca base into cocaine hydrochloride in his home state of Guaviare. After Omar was assassinated, Barrera took revenge, and in the process earned the nickname of “El Loco.” He was captured and jailed by Colombian authorities in 1990, but escaped prison soon afterward. Later, he purchased from the FARC’s 43rd Front, controlled by Gener Garcia Molina, alias “Jhon 40,” and started selling to Jose Miguel Arroyave, of the Bloque Centauros of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia – AUC).

In total, BARRERA reaped tens of millions of dollars of profits from cocaine trafficking, which he laundered through illicit means. Each month, Barrera processed approximately 5,000 kilograms of raw cocaine base into about the same amount of cocaine powder, resulting in approximately 60,000 kilograms of cocaine annually and approximately 720,000 kilograms during the course of the conspiracy. In total, Barrera reaped tens of millions of dollars of profits from cocaine trafficking, which he laundered through illicit means. The US Attorney’s Office and the defense recommended sanctions for trafficking 500 kilos of cocaine, since Chacon collaborated, and she pleaded guilty in the stipulated time frame, saving the court from having to prepare itself to go to trial.

Additionally, the drug lord did not own a telephone or any other electronic equipment. El Loco Barrera, “did not trust other forms of media communication” besides public telephones, “and used the booths to evade the detection of the National Police,” Colombia’s police chief Jose Roberto Leon told Colombian radio. While Colombian authorities in 2008 had put El Loco Barrera at the top of their wanted list together with Cuchillo and neo-paramilitary warlord “Don Mario,” the drug lord kept his low-profile.

  1. His nickname is “El Loco,” or The Madman, and he was believed to be one of Colombia’s most powerful and brutal drug traffickers.
  2. Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office said that Don Lucho and Barrera worked together to traffic cocaine internationally.
  3. Barrera’s pending trial could mean the end of a long, violent criminal career maintained with cover IDs and false fingerprints.
  4. Authorities from four countries worked on a several month-long operation which led to the arrest of Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, Colombia’s “last of the great capos,” on a Venezuelan street on Tuesday.

According to information from confidential informants in the indictments against him, Barrera moved up to 400 tons of cocaine per year between 1998 and 2010, earning hundreds of millions of dollars of drug proceeds along the way. Barrera succeeded in bringing seemingly disparate political forces together for business purposes. By the end of the 1990s, he’d established strong contacts with the FARC, often selling coca base to the rebels’ paramilitary rivals in the AUC or processing the coca himself for sale on the international market. His alliances with Cuchillo in the early part of the 2000s and with Comba in the latter part of the same decade put Barrera among the most formidable of Colombian traffickers.

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In addition to the prison sentence, Barrera was sentenced to five years of supervised release. Intelligence sources told InSight Crime that in the years leading up to his arrest, he spent most of his time in Venezuela in order to have more security against prosecution and extradition. Starting a feud with Carranza, one of the most venerable underworld figures in Colombia, was just one of several strikes against Barrera, who was already well-known and had many tenuous alliances. The Carranza battle had the potential to make life very difficult for him and his allies, especially the ERPAC. Following the death of ERPAC commander Cuchillo, the military upped the pressure in the Eastern Plains, where both Barrera and ERPAC (now supposedly demobilized) did much of their business. In order to survive long term, Barrera would have needed to develop a plan that included Carranza, and that could have meant turning on his longtime partners in the ERPAC.

The DEA’s Trailing of Chacon

In court documents, Chacon admitted to having conspired to traffic five or more kilos of cocaine knowing they would be smuggled into the United States. She indicated that she knew her sentence would be imposed after a consideration of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, and that the court would also consider evidence presented against her. The document indicates that Chacon would not be able to rescind her guilty plea once she received her sentence. Under US law, for conspiring to distribute five or more kilos of cocaine, Chacon could be given a fine of up to $10 million dollars and receive a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of a life sentence in prison. In 2012, Klapper was described in Colombia as a fiercely anti-mafia former prosecutor. In California, she specialized in investigating money laundering cases related to drug trafficking.

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In February of that year, he was arrested on drug trafficking charges and sent to jail. He escaped eight months later and fled to Meta, a historically unlawful state in central Colombia made up of vast plains and unclaimed land. Barrera bought raw cocaine paste from the leftist rebel group FARC and processed it in laboratories in areas controlled by a now-demobilized paramilitary el loco barrera net worth group, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, authorities said. Colombia’s defense minister said he is waiting for the Venezuelans to extradite Barrera either to Colombia or the United States, where the drug lord has been indicted on charges of drug trafficking. By 2012, the hegemony of Colombia’s now most-senior and biggest drug lord came under pressure.

According to Colombian authorities, Barrera’s criminal career began at the end of the 1980s, when he left Bogotá to follow his brother to Guaviare, a remote state in southern Colombia where coca crops have been grown for decades. In Guaviare, Barrera worked processing cocaine in a small, improvised laboratory until a group of six hit men murdered his brother. Barrera is said to have tracked them down and killed them one by one, thereby establishing his reputation in the area.

In March 2010, the US Treasury Department sanctioned Barrera and named him one of Colombia’s biggest drug traffickers. Two US courts in Florida and New York later indicted him in April and September of that year on drug trafficking charges. Each month, BARRERA processed approximately 5,000 kilograms of raw cocaine base into about the same amount of cocaine powder, resulting in approximately 60,000 kilograms of cocaine annually and approximately 720,000 kilograms during the course of the conspiracy.

Other aliases

In November of last year, Chacon gave her consent so that the US Attorney’s Office and her lawyers could begin negotiations between December 16, 2014 and January 15, 2015 to reach an agreement on her plea and sentence. Chacon, who at the time was described as a “cooperative defendant,” gave her consent just one day after “El Loco” Barrera pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking in a New York court. In January 2012, the US Treasury made the drug trafficking accusations against Chacon public for the first time. In July 2012, a federal judge in the United States sentenced the brothers Orlando and Javier Fernandez Barrero to 11 and 13 years in prison, respectively.

The arrest followed dozens of failed attempts to arrest Colombia’s most mysterious drug lord and four months of cooperation between Colombia’s national Police, the U.S. intelligence agency CIA, British intelligence agency MI6 and the Venezuelan anti-narcotics police. By then, Barrera had become the most senior of drug traffickers in Colombia and a crucial ally of the nationally operating FARC, ERPAC that controlled the east of Colombia and the Rastrojos that, under new leadership, had taken control of drug trafficking routes to the Pacific. From 1998 until 2010, Barrera ran a cocaine manufacturing and trafficking syndicate out of Colombia. Barrera purchased the raw cocaine base or paste from the designated terrorist group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (the “FARC”).

The Last Kingpin: ‘El Loco’ Barrera to Stand Trial

In addition, the US Treasury included her daughter, Stefanel Castellanos Chacon, and other suspects as well (although her daughter does not appear among the accused in Florida court documents). The Guatemalan drug trafficker Marllory Dadiana Chacon Rossell is in purgatory. She could be given a light sentence, or she could spend up to four decades in prison. At 43 years old, the possibility that Chacon will grow old behind bars is in play. According to criminal indictments, from 1998 to 2010, Barrera purchased 30,000 pounds in cocaine from the FARC each month — or about 400 tons a year — exporting it around the world, including to the U.S.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Orlando is incarcerated in a medium-security prison in South Carolina. Both sentences could foreshadow what awaits Chacon, since the accusation against the brothers supported the accusation against her. “Cesar Barrera’s role required him to meet very high-level people face-to-face,” prosecutor Monique Botero said at a hearing (according to court documents). “He spoke with Guatemalan and Mexican drug traffickers, to assure them that the cocaine would arrive, and ensure that they were satisfied with the deal.” Two of those traffickers were Borrayo and Chacon. Daniel “El Loco” Barrera has pleaded guilty for a third time to trafficking tons of cocaine to the U.S., but the terms of his extradition from Colombia may disqualify him from a maximum life in prison. The sentencing of BARRERA is the result of an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) and Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”).

His power arose in part due to his skill as a mediator between Colombia’s competing armed factions, such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) and various paramilitary blocs. Those abilities and the resulting connections allowed him to build a vast network of collaborators capable of transporting drugs to four different continents. July 25, 2016, Barrera was sentenced to 35 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $10,000,000. Barrera’s pending trial could mean the end of a long, violent criminal career maintained with cover IDs and false fingerprints. Barrera was extradited from Colombia in July 2013 to the United States, where he faced three separate indictments in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Miami.

Two months after his capture in Venezuela, Barrera was deported to Colombia in November 2012. The following year, Colombia’s then-President Juan Manuel Santos approved his extradition to the United States. In 2014, Barrera pleaded guilty in a US federal court to conspiring to launder tens of millions of dollars in drug money, as well as to drug trafficking charges.

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