Top FARC Commander sentenced to 27 years in prison for importing tons of cocaine into the US

July 23rd, 2010 - 2:40 am ICT by BNO News  

NEW YORK (BNO NEWS) – A former top commander of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) was sentenced on Thursday to 27 years of imprisonment for conspiring to import tons of cocaine into the United States, U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharara announced.

Gerardo Aguilar Ramirez, 50, also known as “Cesar,” was a front commander of FARC, a group labeled as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States. FARC is Colombia’s main leftist group and the world’s leading cocaine manufacturer. The rebel group occupies large swaths of territory in Colombia.

The FARC is made up of 77 military units, known as Fronts. Aguilar was the commander of the FARC’s first Front and responsible of all criminal activities of the unit. Along others, Aguilar conspired to manufacture and distribute thousands of tons of cocaine in Colombia.

Aguilar was captured on July 2, 2008, while holding three Americans as hostages, Keith Stansell, Thomas Howes, and Marc Gonsalves. They were captured along Tom Janis by the FARC in February 2003, after their plane crashed in Colombian FARC-occupied territory.

Janis was executed and the remaining American men were held hostage for over five years until they were freed during a Colombian military operation in 2008. Aguilar was captured during the operation.

On July 16, 2009, he was extradited to the U.S. Aguilar was originally charged with a hostage conspiracy and with cocaine importation conspiracy, however, Colombia only approved his extradition on the narcotics charges only.

Aguilar admitted that from 1998 through 2008, he directed his unit members to manufacture and distribute cocaine to be imported subsequently to the U.S.

“The incarceration of narco-terrorists like Aguilar helps to choke the international drug trade. This Office will continue to work with our partners at the DEA to incapacitate dangerous narco-terrorists who seek to pour drugs into the United States,” Bharara said.

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