Buffalo, NY – The former leader of a Columbian paramilitary drug trafficking organization, who oversaw the distribution of massive quantities of cocaine from Columbia to the U.S. for at least a decade, was deported on Dec. 26, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said.
Herbert Veloza Garcia, 50, the former head of Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), lead a sophisticated drug trafficking organization beginning in 1998, ICE said in a statement.
He was convicted in U.S. federal court in 2009 for charges of conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine, and distributing cocaine in the United States.
After serving more than eight years in prison, Veloza Garcia was transferred to the custody of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in October of 2016.
“The removal of Mr. Garcia highlights ICE’s highest enforcement priorities, which focuses resources on removing criminal aliens,” Thomas Feeley, field office director for ERO Buffalo said. "This convicted drug kingpin will now face justice in his home country."
Veloza Garcia is wanted for “thousands of crimes” in Columbia, including a multitude of murders, forced displacements, and recruitment of child soldiers, Voice of America (VOA) reported.
He was sent to the U.S. to face drug trafficking charges after he was apprehended in Columbia in 2007 – a move that left many worried that the murderous drug kingpin would never return to Columbia to face justice.
However, authorities were finally able to put those fears to rest when they took Veloza Garcia, often referred to by the alias “HH,” into custody as soon as he reached Columbian soil.
"Veloza García, who was the leader of the Calima and Bananero Blocks of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, arrived in Colombia on a flight from Alexandria, in the State of Virginia, United States, and there is an arrest warrant on him preventive in a detention facility, ordered by the Justice and Peace Chamber of the Superior Court of the Judicial District of Medellín,” Columbian authorities said in a press release, according to VOA.