A high ranking member of a Colombian drug cartel was sentenced in Tampa, FL to life in prison Monday following a multi-agency investigation comprised of several federal agencies including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Ivan Gonzalez-Bejarano, 48, linked to the Cali Cartel, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday to a term of life imprisonment for conspiracy to import and distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.
The joint federal investigation, that spanned several years, yielded information revealing that Gonzalez-Bejarano had been trafficking cocaine into the U.S. for at least 20 years.
Gonzalez-Bejarano, also known as Flaco, Omar, Marino, Don Ruben, and El Vincino, was found guilty Friday, Oct. 17, 2008, following a two-week jury trial.
Gonzalez-Bejarano was high ranking member of the Cali Cartel, an organization responsible for smuggling more than 30 metric tons of cocaine.
The sentencing was the culmination of a multi-year investigation by the Panama Express South Strike Force, a federally approved Organized Crime Drug Enforcement task force consisting of ICE, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA); the Coast Guard; the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); the FBI and Joint Interagency Task Force South.
Operation Panama Express targets Colombian maritime smuggling organizations responsible for cocaine trafficking throughout the Easter Pacific to the U.S. and elsewhere for distribution.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Walter E. Furr, III.
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.