A former Colombian drug lord is to serve a reduced sentence of just over 12 years in a United States prison, and may be eligible for more benefits after having been extradited from Colombia, according El Tiempo newspaper.
Camilo Torres Martinez, alias “Fritanga”, described by the DEA and Colombia’s Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (Dijin) as a “pure narco”, was convicted of 12 years and 5 months in jail after he accepted three of the charges leveled against him, reported El Tiempo newspaper.
Fritanga was second in command of the neo-paramilitary criminal organisation, the “Urabeños” when he was captured at his own extravagant wedding in July 2012. He was subsequently deported to the United States in April 2013.
Among the charges, Fritanga accepted possession and conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine, and at least ten witnesses told the court how he sent more than 11 tons of drugs into the United States on speedboats.
The settlement, signed by his lawyer Peter Quijano, is seen as extremely favorable to Fritanga as he was originally believed to be facing 40 years in jail.
However, a source in Tampa, Florida, told El Tiempo that it is likely he cooperated with US authorities to receive a far lesser sentence.
US President Barack Obama’s new amnesty law also means that Fritanga could serve an additional five years probation in the United States, and avoid returning to Colombia where he is wanted on additional charges of drug trafficking.
He is also charged with fraud, forgery of private documents and obtaining false public documents, related to a fake death certificate obtained in December 2010 falsified in order to evade the Colombian authorities.
Collaborated with US authorities
This is the latest case of a Colombian criminal extradited to the United States and obtaining lenient sentences in reward for collaborating with the relevant authorities.
Former drug lord and paramilitary, Juan Carlos Sierra Ramirez, alias “El Tuso,” was released from a Virginia prison on March 14 of 2013.
On Wednesday it was reported that just over a year after having been released from prison, he would be granted permission to live and work in the United States, avoiding a return to Colombia. He was facing further charges of drug trafficking, financing of terrorism, money laundering and illegal use of communications equipment.
Colombian authorities expressed anger at deportation policies and said that, in the case of El Tuso and many other extradited paramilitaries, the policies have been leading to high levels of impunity.
It is unsure yet whether Fritanga will reach a similar deal with US authorities, and avoid a return to Colombia once his sentence is completed.