Terrorist Extradited from Colombia Pleads Guilty in Cocaine for Arms Deal
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Alberto Ruiz-Arroyave, aka El Primo, 46, a Colombian national extradited to the United States for his role in a $25 million arms for cocaine deal, has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia or AUC, United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle announced yesterday in a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
The AUC is a paramilitary organization originally designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States Secretary of State on Sept. 10, 2001. Ruiz was extradited to the United States on May 12, 2008.
According to pleadings filed in this case, on Oct. 14, 2004, a superseding indictment was returned by a federal grand jury arising from Operation White Terror which added Javier Conrado Alvarez Correa, aka Javier Alvarez, and Ruiz-Arroyave as defendants charged with conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. 2339B.
The focus of Operation White Terror was a $25 million arms-for-cocaine transaction involving the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Ruiz-Arroyave and Alvarez were the key intermediaries between a cooperating defendant and the leader of the AUCís Centaurus Block, Miguel Arroyave Ruiz. Ruiz directed the cooperating defendant to coordinate the exchange of weapons with his cousin, Ruiz-Arroyave, and to communicate with Ruiz through Alvarez. The cooperating defendant then had various discussions with Alvarez and Ruiz-Arroyave to work out the details and logistics of the transaction. According to press reports, Ruiz was killed by his own troops on Sept. 19, 2004, for participating in talks to demobilize the AUC. A warrant remains outstanding for the arrest of Alvarez, who is also a Colombian national.
Ruiz-Arroyave faces a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine at his sentencing which has been set for Jan. 8, 2009 at 9:45 a.m.
This case is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation conducted by the Houston offices of the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Vaden.
The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, or AUC) were formed in 1997 as an umbrella paramilitary organization. AUC itself previously estimated that it had authority over most of the paramilitary forces within Colombia, with the remainder being independent or splinter factions. It is estimated that it has more than 20,000 militants.
The AUC claimed its primary objective was to protect its sponsors and its supporters from insurgents and their activities, because the Colombian government had failed to do so. The AUC asserted itself as a regional and national counterinsurgency force. AUC leaders claimed 70 percent of the AUC's operational costs were financed with drug-related earnings, the rest coming from "donations" from its sponsors.
According to police sources, in the first ten months of 2000 the AUC conducted 804 assassinations, 203 kidnappings, and 75 massacres with 507 victims.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.