Six Colombian Nationals Charged with Murder of DEA Agent
|U.S. Department of Justice July 18, 2013|
WASHINGTON—Six Colombian nationals were indicted today by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia for the kidnapping and murder of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent James Terry Watson.
“Special Agent Watson was a brave public servant who dedicated his life to protecting the country he loved. He was a hero, in every sense of the word, who was taken from us far too suddenly and far too soon,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “With today’s arrests, we take an important step towards ensuring that those allegedly responsible for his senseless murder are brought to justice. We also send an unmistakable message to all who commit acts of violence against America’s law enforcement professionals: no matter who you are or where you live, we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Gerardo Figueroa Sepulveda, 38; Omar Fabian Valdes Gualtero, 27; Edgar Javier Bello Murillo, 26; Hector Leonardo Lopez, 23; Julio Estiven Gracia Ramierez, 30; and Andrés Alvaro Oviedo-Garcia, 21, were each charged with two counts of second-degree murder, one count of kidnapping, and one count of conspiracy to kidnap. Oviedo-Garcia was also charged with two counts of assault.
Additionally, the grand jury indicted Wilson Daniel Peralta-Bocachica, 30, also a Colombian national, for his alleged efforts to destroy evidence associated with the murder of Special Agent Watson.
According to the indictment, Figueroa, Valdes, Bello, Lopez, Gracia, and Oviedo-Garcia were part of a kidnapping and robbery conspiracy that utilized taxi cabs in Bogota, Colombia, to lure victims into a position where they could be attacked and robbed. Once an intended victim entered a taxi cab, the driver of the taxi cab would signal other conspirators to commence the robbery and kidnapping operation.
The indictment alleges that on June 20, 2013, while he was working for the U.S. Mission in Colombia, Special Agent Watson entered a taxi cab operated by one of the defendants. Special Agent Watson was then allegedly attacked by two other defendants—one who stunned Special Agent Watson with a stun gun and another who stabbed Special Agent Watson with a knife, resulting in his death.
The charges were announced by Attorney General Holder; Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia; Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Derek S. Maltz of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Special Operations Division; and Director Gregory B. Starr of the Diplomatic Security Service for the U.S. Department of State.
This case is being investigated by the FBI, DEA, and Diplomatic Security Service, in close cooperation with Colombian authorities, and with assistance from INTERPOL and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael P. Ben’Ary from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and Special Counsel Stacey Luck and Trial Attorney Christine Duey from the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States. The Department of Justice gratefully acknowledges the Colombian Attorney General’s Office, Colombian National Police, Colombian Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (DIJIN), DIJIN Special Investigative Unit, Bogota Metropolitan Police, and Colombian Technical Investigation Team for their extraordinary efforts, support, and professionalism in responding to this incident.
Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.