MIAMI - A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigation into an international weapons trafficking organization operating in the United States and Central and South America has lead to the arrest of six individuals in Colombia charged in the Southern District of Florida.
Franklin William McField-Bent, a/k/a Buda, 53, a Nicaraguan national, who is charged with four counts of conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and three counts of narcotics charges, was arrested in Barranquilla, Colombia on Oct. 8, 2010. Also charged and arrested in Colombia were five members of his drug and weapons smuggling organizations, Jeison Archibold, 29, a Colombian national, Miguel Villela, a/k/a/ "Don Miguel," 54, a Honduran national, Juan Carlos Cuao Camacho, 40, a Colombian national, Fausto Aguero Alverado, 38, a Honduran national, and Edwin Rodriguez Leon, 28, a Colombian national.
According to the indictment, which was filed on Friday, McField-Bent and others conspired and attempted to provide grenade launchers, grenades, automatic rifles and other weapons to what they thought were members of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC). The AUC has been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the United States Secretary of State since September 10, 2001. In fact, the defendants were dealing with undercover agents. If convicted, McField-Bent faces a maximum 15-year sentence in prison on each of the four material support counts.
The indictment also alleges that McField-Bent and others conspired and attempted to distribute cocaine knowing that it would eventually be imported into the United States. If convicted, McField-Bent and the other co-defendants face a maximum life sentence on each of the three narcotics charges, and a mandatory minimum 10 year sentence on each count.
"This investigation is another fine example in protecting our national security by ensuring that the sale and distribution of weapons is done lawfully and preventing narcotics from being imported into the United States," said Anthony V. Mangione, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Miami. "This case will send a message to those individuals and criminal organizations who attempt to profit by illegally supplying weapons to terrorist organizations. ICE will continue to aggressively pursue those who support terrorist organizations that could potentially do harm to the United States and our allies."
"Any individual attempting to sell weapons to designated terrorist organizations poses a grave threat to our national security and the security of our allies," said U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer. "Thanks to this undercover sting operation, a potential threat was shut down."
"Drug trafficking is fuel for the terrorists' engine," said Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville, Drug Enforcement Administration, Miami Field Division. "This indictment drains the tank."
The indictment is the result of a joint effort by ICE HSI and DEA special agents to curtail the illicit weapons-for-drugs exchanges in Central and South America. This case is a result of a cooperative federal, state, and local law enforcement investigation, approved and funded by ICE and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a national DOJ program that supports investigations of significant multi-state and international drug trafficking organizations.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Fels.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.