‘Most Feared’ Colombian Cartel Boss Extradited to the US
The man allegedly behind the largest and most feared Colombian drug cartel pleaded not guilty in Brooklyn’s federal courthouse on Tuesday, the New York Daily News reported.
The cartel, which was formerly called Clan Usuga, also “imposed a ‘tax’ on any drug traffickers that operated in the region under the Urabenos control,” states the indictment, obtained by OCCRP. They contracted “sicarios,” or hitmen, to commit “murders, assaults, kidnappings and assassinations” to expand their turf and enhance their reputation.
Los Urabenos would kill anyone who got in their way.
Special Agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration James Hunt called Rendon-Herrera "the most feared narco-terrorist in Colombia.”
“He is known as the old man who ignited Clan Usaga's reign of terror while besieging the United States with hundreds of tons of cocaine,” Hunt added.
Rendon-Herrera was extradited to the US on Monday from Colombia, where he had been in custody since 2009 and was sentenced to 20 years for homicide, forced disappearance, torture, kidnapping, and drug trafficking.
As Don Mario continued to run the drug cartel from behind bars, Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos agreed to extradite him to the US.
Before he was in custody, Rendon-Herrera was famous for his designer suits, wearing a new Rolex every day, and lighting his cigars with US$100 bills, the New York Post reported.
When translators stated his not-guilty plea, Don Mario was still wearing the same Adidas hoodie and track pants he had on when he got off the plane.
Prosecutors compared Rendon-Herrera’s rule to that of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the former boss of the infamous Mexican Sinaloa Cartel who was also extradited to Brooklyn to face federal charges last year.
US Attorney Richard Donoghue said they are "committed to cooperating with our international partners to dismantle illicit organizations like Clan Usuga and stem the destructive effects wrought by this violent armed criminal group."
Rendon-Herrera’s brother Freddy used to command the Colombian cartel as part of the right-wing paramilitary United Self-Defenders of Colombia.
With drug money from the cartel, the right-wing group would fund its guerilla warfare against left-wing opponents. When Pablo Escobar died in 1993, they also took over many of his drug routes.
Freddy and other leaders of the political group signed a peace treaty and surrendered in 2006 in return for amnesty from extradition. Don Mario used this as an opportunity to retreat to the jungles of Colombia, take over the vacuum they left behind, and consolidate his power through violence and terror.
Rendon-Herrera’s inner circle of murderers offered $1,200 for the severed heads of cops and farmers who wouldn’t let them grow coca plants on their farms.
El Chapo will go to trail in September and another Mexican cartel leader, Rafael Caro-Quintero, has been put on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list with a $20 million price tag under his photo. Caro-Quintero also has a pending indictment in the Brooklyn Federal Court.
After he was remanded on Tuesday, the court let Rendon-Herrera know that he was due back on May 21.