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Friday, September 24th, 2021

ICE deports former drug-trafficking leader to face charges in Colombia

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A former leader of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia drug-trafficking ring was deported to Columbia on Tuesday after spending eight years in federal custody for conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine in the United States.

Hebert Veloza Garcia, 50, was deported to his native Columbia to face charges of forced displacement and threats. He previously admitted in Colombian court that he took part in or ordered dozens of murders during his 10-year reign as a leader of the drug-traffick ring, known as AUC.

Garcia was convicted in 2009 on charges of conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and distributing cocaine in the United States. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) turned him over to Colombian officials.

“The removal of Mr. Garcia highlights ICE’s highest enforcement priorities, which focuses resources on removing criminal aliens,” Thomas Feeley, the field office director for ERO-Buffalo, said. “This convicted drug kingpin will now face justice in his home country.”

ERO has removed more than 1,700 foreign fugitives from the country since October 2009. The fugitives have faced crimes in their home countries that include kidnapping, rape, and murder. ICE conducted 240,255 total removals in fiscal year 2016 — and 92 percent of the removed individuals had previously been convicted of a criminal offense.