Colombian Narcotics Kingpin Sentenced for Bribing Former Special Agent

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A Colombian cartel leader was sentenced to 27 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release in the Southern District of Florida for bribing a former special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) team. The cocaine trafficker, Jose Bayron Piedrahita-Ceballos, bribed the ICE-HSI official to dismiss a drug trafficking indictment against him.

According to the Department of Justice release, Christopher Ciccione II, a former federal law enforcement agent, received approximately $20,000 in cash, dinner, drinks, and prostitution during an extended stay in Bogota, Colombia in exchange for official acts that resulted in the dismissal of the indictment against Piedrahita-Ceballos.

Ciccione used his official position to not only remove indictments against Piedrahita-Ceballos, but also to obtain official authorization for Piedrahita-Ceballos to enter the U.S.

Another Colombian national, Juan Carlos Velasco, served as the intermediary between Piedrahita-Ceballos and Ciccione. Velasco has been sentenced to 27 months in prison. Ciccione was sentenced to 36 months in prison.

“This defendant was a drug kingpin who paid a Special Agent to bribe his way out of a criminal indictment,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “As today’s sentence shows, the Department of Justice will work diligently to ensure that our justice system is never corrupted in this manner.”

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated Piedrahita-Ceballos as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act on May 3, 2016.

“ICE takes responsibility in ensuring its employees have the trust of the American public,” said Special Agent in Charge Southeast Michael T. Moreland of ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).  “To erode that trust, Mr. Piedrahita sought to use an employee for his personal gain and his sentence today conveys to other bad actors that ICE will not tolerate the exploitation of its employees or the American justice system.”  

Posted in The Takedown