U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida
(813) 274-6000
December 2, 2014

Leader of Colombian Drug Trafficking Organization Pleads Guilty

TAMPA, FL—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Benjamin Renteria-Arboleda (54, Colombia, South America) has pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. He faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison. Sentencing is scheduled for January 20, 2015.

According to the plea agreement, since July 2001, at least seven maritime cocaine shipments planned by Renteria-Arboleda and others were interdicted by the United States Coast Guard and the United States Navy, in the Pacific Ocean, resulting in the seizure of approximately nine tons of cocaine. Renteria-Arboleda’s roles in the conspiracy included contracting for the construction, and dispatching, go-fast vessels and self-propelled semi-submersible vessels. Many of the vessels dispatched by Renteria-Arboleda successfully delivered cocaine and were not interdicted by the United States.

Renteria-Arboleda was arrested in Colombia and subsequently extradited to the United States for prosecution.

This case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, a standing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation, comprised of agents and analysts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force South. The principal mission of the OCDETF Program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher F. Murray.

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