Columbian cocaine trafficking kingpin sentenced to prison
Posted on June 15, 2010 3:00 AM EST
A Columbian cocaine trafficking
kingpin appeared in a Tampa federal court for his sentencing hearing along with his criminal defense lawyer. Fabio Enrique-Ochoa is alleged to have imported cocaine into the United States through Miami for three decades. According to court documents, Ochoa was responsible for importing approximately 5 tons of cocaine into the country between 1978 and 2009. Ochoa was sentenced to 17 ½ years in prison in exchange for pleading guilty in three cases, two of the cases arising out of Miami and one case arising out of Tampa.
The United States District Court Judge presiding over the sentencing hearing added 2 years to his sentence for a probation violation for a Miami marijuana trafficking case. While the judge could have handed down concurrent sentences, meaning that the cocaine trafficking cases and the probation violation could have run at the same time. The judge elected to sentence him consecutively, meaning he has to finish his 17 ½ year sentence then complete his two year sentence. As part of the plea, Ochoa agreed to asset forfeitures
in the amount of $15 million dollars in property as part of the plea agreement.
Ochoa, a native of Columbia was raised in Miami, Florida. He fled the United States before he could be indicted on the three cocaine trafficking cases. His Miami criminal lawyer
began negotiating his surrender as far back as 1999. Several surrender attempts failed as Ochoa feared a long prison sentence and being separated from his family for a long period of time. Ochoa was facing significantly more prison time, but in an effort to avoid a potential life sentence he agreed to cooperate with government investigators and prosecutors. Despite the fact that Ochoa is considered to be among the largest cocaine traffickers in the world. His assistance garnered favor with government prosecutors who in turn asked the judge for a sentence reduction.
At one point, Ochoa was the head of one of the largest cocaine trafficking cartels in the world, a Medellin based organization. The cartel was responsible for the importation of between 6 and 8 tons of cocaine. The group used freighters, speed boats and airplanes to deliver the illegal substance through countries such as Jamaica, Honduras, Belize and Mexico. Other cocaine trafficking cartels have used the same methods to deliver cocaine into the United States. Despite the war on drug, drug cartels have continued their drug trafficking operations from the 1980's until the present time.
Ochoa requested that he serve his prison time in a federal correctional institution in Florida in order to be close to his family. While the federal judge granted his request, the federal department of corrections ultimately decides where Ochoa will serve his prison sentence. In both state and federal court
, sentenced defendants can request where to serve their prison sentences. However, judges cannot dictate to the department of corrections the location where a defendant will serve out his sentence.
Columbian Drug Trafficker Gets Prison Time in Tampa Case, TBO.com, June 2, 2010.