Colombia’s migration chief is facing contempt charges and at least two regional directors could go to prison after a bungled cover-up of fraud with US funds to combat human trafficking.
According to the court from the city of Itagui, Migration director Juan Espinosa may be in contempt of court after two of his regional directors pressed bogus criminal charges against an American citizen who was wiretapped by US federal agency ICE based on evidence fabricated by Medellin’s migration office.
Additional evidence indicates that two of Migration’s regional directors committed fraud to cover up the alleged corruption in the joint program with ICE.
Retired US Army officer John Lanier has been in a legal battle with Migration for almost a year after the Medellin resident was falsely accused of being part of a “criminal network” dedicated to human trafficking.
Colombia Reports has been following the legal proceedings for almost a year while ICE was wiretapping the retired army official based on Migration’s fabricated claims.
This website tried to meet with the director of Migration in Medellin, Wilson Patiño, to hand over evidence of corruption in December 2020.
I would like to meet with you confidentially in order to share evidence of an alleged case of fraud by UAEMC that I am investigating and that possibly compromises officials of the Migration headquarters in Medellin, and thus may warrant an internal investigation.
We can meet at the Regional Directorate office when you prefer, in order to attend to the competence in the exercise of the missionary functions for the necessary legal actions, if warranted.
Migration Medellin director Wilson Patiño
The meeting never took place because the regional director did not show up at his office at 9AM on December 15 as agreed.
The mysterious intelligence report
Lanier told courts in Itagui and Medellin that he was framed by two officials while drinking a beer in Parque Lleras in October 2019.
Apart from being a tourist hotspot, Parque Lleras is popular among Medellin sex workers trying to pick up “gringos”.
According to the American, he and at least two others were approached by a policemen and a state official in civilian clothing after being approached by a woman who offered them “company”.
Despite having turned down the offer, the officials took a photo of Lanier’s ID card, which ended up in an intelligence report that Migration claimed to have received from Interpol.
The plaintiff has an “active consignment” due to an intelligence report of the National Police of the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol – office of October 27, 2020 with internal file No. 20197025593862 of November 18, 2019.
Migration’s Special Administrative Unit
The report provided ICE with the justification to intercept the American’s phone and internet while visiting the United States.
Migration claimed in early 2020 that Lanier was a member of a “criminal network” that was dedicated to human trafficking.
The intelligence report shows that the citizen was part of a criminal network that had been committing crimes of human trafficking, inducement to prostitution, sexual tourism, behavior that goes against the current migratory regulations and threatens national security, public order, social tranquility and public safety in Colombian territory.
Migration’s Special Administrative Unit
Captain Yurany Sierra of Interpol Colombia said in October 2020 that “this office doesn’t have the database to establish if there are any administrative requirements” and thus couldn’t have issued the intelligence report.
Lanier knew this in March that year already when an Interpol officer told him that Migration “were just reaching their quota that night,” according to the US citizen.
Captain Camilo Andres Lopera of the Poblado District police said in January that his office also didn’t produce the report, which didn’t contain the “numbers that match the GECOP” police database “with which orders enter and leave police entities.”
Lopera added that he was “taking action to prevent situations or behavior” that would be illegal like the report used by ICE to wiretap a US citizen.
“Banned” from Colombia
Lanier wasn’t allowed to enter Colombia in September 2020 after landing in Cartagena on the first flight after a five-month shutdown of air traffic because of the coronavirus pandemic.
President Ivan Duque was reportedly looking over the shoulders of migration officials going through the list of arrivals before welcoming the incoming passengers to promote his economic reactivation policy.
The American was put on the same plane that returned the Medellin resident to Florida.
Criminal charges backfire
Lanier took legal action and the court ruled in October that Migration had violated the Medellin resident’s constitutional right to due process by kicking him out of the country without the proper legal justification.
On November 3 last year, the Medellin Superior Tribunal ordered Migration to start the administrative procedures that would justify an entry ban and a wiretap.
The court order put Migration in a fix as the evidence indicated that Migration’s intelligence report was fabricated, ICE had illegally been wiretapping a US citizen and Lanier was the victim of fraud.
Within a week, Lanier received a phone call from a so-called “ambulance chaser” to offer legal assistance, claiming ICE had opened a criminal investigation against the Medellin resident.
After both Interpol and the Medellin Police Department implied the Migration intelligence report was a fraud, the American’s defense attorney asked the Caribbean Migration office to file charges and surrender evidence over Lanier’s alleged criminal activity on March 8.
The regional migration chief, Maria del Pilar Corredor, apparently panicked and produced a document claiming she had ordered her coordinator in Barranquilla, Juan Gabriel Hernandez, to open an investigation on January 18 and had pressed criminal charges on March 11.
Colombia Reports was unable to corroborate this claim with Hernandez, who apparently has been fired.
Intelligence report stops existing
Unfortunately for Corredor, Hernandez’ alleged investigation was based on the intelligence report that had been dismissed by the Medellin Police Department and Interpol.
Additionally, the timestamp of Corredor’s document indicated the charges weren’t pressed on March 11, but on March 15. Most importantly, they contained no corroborating evidence.
On March 17, Lanier’s attorney announced contempt charges and on April 13 the court ordered Migration to produce evidence within 72 hours.
In a last-ditch attempt, the director of Migration Medellin provided the court with an undated order to expel Lanier based on the non-existent Interpol report.
Curiously, the timestamp of this document indicated the expulsion was created on December 15 last year, the day Patiño agreed to meet with Colombia Reports to receive evidence of fraud by his subordinates.
Within 48 hours, the Migration Caribbean director dropped the charges against Lanier, falsely claiming she didn’t receive the request to surrender evidence until March 18.
Most interestingly, Corredor suddenly claimed that the intelligence report used to illegally wiretap the US citizen and cited by the Migration Medellin director didn’t exist.
There is no intelligence report in our own databases or in the information, records, processes, uses or acts as receiver of other national or foreign security or intelligence entities or agencies we manage to determine that Mr. John Summerfield Lanier may be considered a risk to national or citizen security and, consequently, that as of the current date he has not violated immigration regulations.
Migration Caribbean director Maria del Pilar Corredo
The American’s defense attorney wasn’t going to let the allegedly corrupt officials off the hook that easily and announced criminal charges.
Be warned that in the development of the administrative trial the officials who intervened, such as the Caribbean regional director Dr. Maria del Pilar Corredor, migration officer Dayana Urbina Vargas and Mr. Juan Gabriel Hernandez in his role as coordinator of the migration control management group, have incurred in alleged criminal and disciplinary conducts. Therefore, my attorney in Colombia will proceed with the appropriate legal actions through a criminal complaint before the Prosecutor General’s Office and a disciplinary complaint before the Inspector General’s Office.
Defense attorney Juan Pablo Vasquez
By May 11, the Itagui court had also had enough and ordered an investigation to establish if the national director was in contempt of court.
The court order against the national director triggered an immediate reaction from Migration Colombia’s top lawyer, who issued a gag order against Lanier, citing “national security” on May 12.
A week after his case was deemed a national security issue, Lanier came under attack online, the US citizen told Colombia Reports.
Suddenly Facebook closed my account, my Google account was attacked by a Linux machine and a YouTube channel was created in my name.
Espinosa’s press secretary appeared to be unaware that the regional directors’ bungled fraud practices had become a legal liability for Colombia’s top migration official and refused to comment on the scandal.
The US Embassy has refused any comment since December despite having all the evidence that ICE was illegally wiretapping innocent US citizens to cover up the alleged corruption of Colombian migration officials.