PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and MICHELE M. LEONHART, Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA"), announced today the unsealing of charges against WALID MAKLED- GARCIA, a/k/a "El Turco," a/k/a "El Arabe," a Venezuela-based drug kingpin accused of trafficking tons of cocaine into the United States.
MAKLED-GARCIA, who was arrested in Colombia on U.S. charges on August 18, 2010, and is currently in custody there, was designated one of the worlds most significant drug kingpins under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act by the President of the United States in May 2009. MAKLED-GARCIA is also a Consolidated Priority Organization Target ("CPOT"), a
Department of Justice designation reserved for the most dangerous and prolific narcotics traffickers.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: Makled Garcia is a king among kingpins. He allegedly coordinated
a vast international narcotics trafficking organization, and these charges emphasize our commitment to pursue those who flood the United States with poison for their own financial gain. DEA Acting Administrator MICHELE M. LEONHART said: "Due to the outstanding work with our partners in Colombia and elsewhere, Makled-Garcia is behind bars and awaiting extradition to the United States for the crimes in this indictment.
According to the Superseding Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court and other documents previously filed
by the United States in Colombian extradition proceedings: From approximately 2006 through August 2010, MAKLED-GARCIA operated and controlled airstrips located in Venezuela. He used them to facilitate the shipment of multi-ton quantities of cocaine from Venezuela to Central America and Mexico by numerous drug trafficking organizations, knowing a portion were destined for the United States. To secure the safe passage of these cocaine shipments, MAKLED-GARCIA bribed Venezuelan officials with fees he extracted from the drug
MAKLED-GARCIA, 41, is charged with one count of conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge ROBERT W. SWEET. Mr. BHARARA praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEAs