U.S. Sentences Colombian Drug Kingpin to 35 Years
A federal court in New York sent on Monday a drug kingpin and paramilitary leader whom Colombia extradited in 2018 to prison for 35 years, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a statement.
Daniel Rendón Herrera, or “Don Mario” pleaded guilty back in November, admitting that he lead a multibillion-dollar narco-terrorist empire that tortured and killed rivals and civilians and trafficked more than 80 tonnes of cocaine.
United States Attorney Breon Peace said the sentencing marks the end of the criminal career of Don Mario, who was “once the most feared narco-terrorist in Colombia.”
Peace added that he was “responsible for importing tonnes of cocaine, fueling violence, perpetuating drug abuse,” which left “a wake of destruction from Colombia to the United States stained with the blood of rival drug traffickers and civilians who were tortured and killed” by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).
According to court records, Don Mario was since the late 1990s the leader and mastermind behind the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) -- a designated foreign terrorist organization -- and founder and leader of the Gulf Clan.
Following the completion of the AUC demobilization in 2006 -- as part of Colombia’s attempt to dismantle paramilitaries -- more than 30 new criminal groups were born. Don Mario, refusing to adhere to the peace process, rearmed the AUC under a new name as the “Urabeños,” or Gulf Clan, which went on to become the most powerful criminal group in Colombia.
According to U.S. authorities, the AUC imposed “taxes” on cocaine that was trafficked through areas it controlled and engaged in violent attacks including murders and kidnappings to support its political and terrorist objectives. By 2009, when the Colombian authorities arrested Don Mario, he allegedly commanded 16 “bloques,” or territories, across the country and thousands of armed paramilitary fighters.
Don Mario has also been sentenced in his country for numerous murders as well as arms and drug trafficking.