A federal judge sentenced a senior paramilitary leader and one of Colombia’s most notorious drug traffickers was sentenced on Friday to serve 16 years and six months in prison for drug trafficking, according to officials.
Hernan Giraldo Serna, a Colombian national, was the head of an international drug-trafficking conspiracy that was responsible for smuggling tons of cocaine into the United States, officials said.
Giraldo Serna plead guilty in 2009 to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
According to a plea agreement, Serna ascended to a leadership position in 1996 within the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self Defense Forces of Colombia or AUC), a terrorist and paramilitary organization in Colombia, according to authorities.
In September 2001, the AUC was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Department of State.
In May 2003, the AUC was placed on the Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers list by order of the President, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.
In February 2004, Giraldo Serna individually was designated as a Tier II Kingpin by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, subjecting him to severe economic sanctions under the Kingpin Act.
The statement of facts also established that Giraldo Serna became a senior commander in the AUC by 1996, and his armed force controlled a significant part of northern Colombia.
In connection with his guilty plea, Giraldo Serna admitted that, from the early 1990s through the early 2000s, soldiers operating under his direction controlled large areas in northern Colombia where cocaine was cultivated, produced and distributed, according to officials.
Giraldo Serna also admitted to providing security for drug traffickers in the region under his control.
Also known as El Patron or The Drill, he wasn’t only a paramilitary leader responsible for drug operations and homicides, but also responsible for the rape of several girls under the age of 14. One organization believes at least 13 such girls gave birth to his children, according to a New York Times story published Saturday.
But in 2008, along with 13 other paramilitary leaders, he was extradited to the United States under Colombia’s Justice and Peace Law, the Times reported
“The sentence demonstrates the successful and vigorous partnership we have with our law enforcement colleagues in Colombia. We have been able to disrupt the flow of drugs coming from the north coast of Colombia, and punish the narco-traffickers responsible,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco.
Adding, “This defendant, operating with the resources of an illegal para-military group that controlled drug trafficking in a large portion of northern Colombia, distributed large quantities of cocaine into international commerce, much of which was imported into the United States. International drug traffickers who believe they can operate with impunity learn the hard way that they cannot, and we will continue to work with our international partners to bring to justice those who knowingly transport cocaine to the United States.”
“DEA agents work every day to attack global criminal networks that use drug trafficking as a means to finance their terrorist activities and we are pleased that this AUC leader will finally face American justice,” said DEA Chief of Operations Anthony Williams. “We will continue to work with our international partners as DEA targets the transnational criminal groups destroying the lives of many people around the world.”