Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Columbian Criminal Defense Attorney and Government Employee Arrested for Selling Confidential U.S. Extradition Information to Drug Traffickers

Early Friday, November 16, 2012, in Bogotá, two Colombian nationals were arrested for obstructing justice by selling sensitive and confidential U.S. law enforcement information to a narcotics trafficker, concerning prosecutions in New York. The arrests are the result of an extensive investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Freddy Mauricio Tellez-Buitrago and Adriana Gonzalez-Marquez were arrested Friday, November 16, 2012. Tellez-Buitrago is employed as an administrative services assistant at the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia, International Affairs. Gonalez-Marquez, a former prosecutor at the attorney general's office, is now a Colombian criminal defense attorney. The indictment charging the defendants with obstruction of justice was unsealed Nov. 16 in New York.

The defendants' arrests resulted from an HSI investigation which revealed that Tellez-Buitrago had specialized access to law enforcement materials, including requests from the U.S. government for the extradition of alleged Colombian drug traffickers. Typically, the Colombian authorities treat such extradition requests as sensitive and confidential until the arrest of the individual whose extradition is sought. Tellez-Buitrago is charged with accepting bribes from Gonzalez-Marquez in exchange for leaking documents relating to U.S. extradition requests for narcotics traffickers. Gonzalez-Marquez, in turn, allegedly sold the information to a narcotics trafficker for $30,000.

"The defendants allegedly abused their positions of trust by conspiring to sell confidential and law enforcement sensitive documents to criminal organizations," said James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York. "This betrayal jeopardizes the integrity of the criminal justice system and threatens the safety of federal agents in the United States and Colombia. The arrests of Gonzalez-Marquez and Tellez-Buitrago are a culmination of the joint efforts between HSI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Colombian authorities to root out those individuals with the potential to undermine an international investigation."

"Extradition requests are part of the fabric of international criminal law, and contain some of the most sensitive information transmitted between countries," said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch, Eastern District of New York. "The defendants are charged with leaking this sensitive and confidential intelligence information in pursuit of dollars and pesos. To satisfy their own greed, the defendants attempted to compromise the judicial process, obstructing justice here and in Colombia, and placing the lives of law enforcement personnel and potential witnesses in jeopardy. They plotted to capitalize on the borders that divide our countries. But the defendants did not anticipate the international cooperation of law enforcement in the United States and Colombia. We will continue to take every action necessary to ensure that the international criminal justice system is never corrupted."

"Turning his back on our justice system, Tellez-Buitrago allegedly used his clerical position to provide confidential information in exchange for cash," said Brian Crowell, special agent in charge of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) New York. "Had it not been for our diligent investigators, this information could have jeopardized U.S. and Colombian law enforcement missions. Tellez-Buitrago and Gonzalez-Marquez's alleged criminal acts would have facilitated drug trafficking organizations attempts to poison our communities."

If convicted, Tellez-Buitrago and Gonzalez-Marquez each face up to 20 years in federal prison.
This investigation was led by HSI, with the assistance of the DEA, Colombian National Police and the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Soumya Dayananda, Eastern District of New York, is prosecuting this case on behalf of the U.S. government.

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