La Semana (Colombia), January 4, 2019
Translated by CSN Volunteer Buddy Bell
During the sentencing verdict of Chapo Guzmán, the drug trafficker Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía referred to one of the most painful episodes in the history of drug-running [for Colombia]. The alliance of drug cartels with the nation’s highest authorities.
Incidents which were thought to be buried in the terrifying history of regional mafias […] are being revived within a U.S. judicial hearing that now proceeds against the kingpin of kingpins, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias El Chapo Guzmán [a Mexican drug trafficker]. One of his drug suppliers, as affirmed by his criminal empire, was Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía, ex-kingpin of the North Valley cartel, captured in Brazil in 2007.
Ramírez Abadía has been extradited to the U.S., where he was found responsible for sending over thousands of tons of cocaine and sentenced to 13 years behind bars. Now that Chapo Guzmán is facing charges, Abadía has become a state witness who has volunteered to testify with the intention of reducing his own sentence […].
The man who hid a stash of $80 million in Cali safehouses appeared in December before the Federal District Court in Brooklyn and admitted to having paid off everyone, from journalists to government attorneys.
A story in the New York Times described statements where he told judges that a whole wing of his organization was dedicated to distributing these payments. “It’s impossible to be a drug cartel leader in Colombia and not be corrupt,” he explained. “It comes with the territory.”
On the distribution list there are prison guards, border agents, lawyers, and various officials with the Colombian National Police. According to the U.S. daily, Ramírez “boasted of the time when, in 1997, he spent more than $10 million bribing what amounted to all of the Colombian Congress in order to change national extradition law in his favor.” He also confirmed having paid up to $500,000 to Ernesto Samper, the former president of Colombia, back when he was first nominated for public office.
The publication of Chupeta’s testimony was described by former minister Rafael Nieto Loaiza, of the Democratic Center party, who asked a congressional judiciary commission to investigate former president Samper Pizano.
“That testimony is very important because it was made under oath, before a panel of judges, and under a basic agreement in which Chupeta was to collaborate with U.S. authorities […I]f that is the truth we will have a new investigation in front of us, a completely distinct payment from that of the ‘Proceso 8,000’ that a narcotrafficker was supposed to have handed over to Ernesto Samper,” said Nieto at a press conference.
Although the question is in the air as to whether these acts may have been time-barred since more than two decades have passed, Nieto insisted that the judiciary commission’s power is intact and that one of the infractions not under such limitation would serve to activate their capacity, that of illicit enrichment.
The former minister’s request aims for the members of this Congressional body to request, at a minimum, a copy of Chupeta’s testimony before the U.S. court. It also calls for the gathering of evidence as necessary to confirm [the statement’s] veracity.