NEW YORK – A corrupt Colombian government employee and a criminal defense attorney were extradited to the United States and arraigned on obstruction of justice charges Wednesday. These events stems from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Freddy Mauricio Tellez-Buitrago, 34, and Adriana Gonzalez-Marquez, 33, both Colombian nationals, face obstruction of justice charges for stealing sensitive and confidential U.S. law enforcement information concerning prosecutions in the Eastern District of New York and selling that information to a narcotics trafficker.
"Gonzalez-Marquez and Tellez-Buitrago allegedly used their connections within the Colombian government to provide sensitive information to members of drug trafficking organizations. This type of criminal espionage greatly threatens our efforts to capture criminals abroad and threatens the safety of American and Colombian law enforcement officers alike," said James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York. "HSI, working with our attachés and international and federal law enforcement partners, contributes to the disruption of drug trafficking organizations that line their pockets with millions of dollars in illicit proceeds."
"These defendants used their insider’s knowledge of the Colombian Attorney General’s Office to steal confidential information that put lives at risk. The extradition of the defendants highlights the success of the international cooperation between the United States and Colombia," said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch, Eastern District of New York. "We will continue to take every step to target individuals who attempt to compromise the judicial process by obstructing justice here and in Colombia, placing the lives of law enforcement personnel in jeopardy."
"Today, as the defendants in this case stepped onto American soil, Freddy Mauricio Tellez-Buitrago and Adriana Gonzalez-Marquez realized the harsh reality that there is no amount of money worth their charged criminal acts," said Brian Crowell, special agent in charge of the DEA New York Field Division. "Federal, state, local and international law enforcement united their resources to expose the defendants’ obstruction of justice and extradited them to the U.S. to face our judicial system, a system they allegedly tried to endanger by selling sensitive information and supplying it to the enemies of cops everywhere – drug traffickers."
Prior to his arrest, Tellez-Buitrago was employed as an administrative services assistant at the International Affairs Office within the Attorney General’s Office in Colombia. Prior to her arrest, Gonzalez-Marquez, a former prosecutor at the Colombia Attorney General’s Office, was practicing as a Colombian criminal defense attorney. Tellez-Buitrago and Gonzalez-Marquez were arrested in Colombia Nov. 16, 2012, on provisional arrest warrants issued from the Eastern District of New York.
The defendants’ extradition resulted from an investigation, which revealed that through his employment at the Colombian Attorney General’s Office, Tellez-Buitrago had specialized access to law enforcement materials, including requests from the United States government for the extradition of alleged Colombian drug traffickers. Typically, the Colombian authorities treat such extradition requests as sensitive and confidential until the arrest of the individual whose extradition is sought. Tellez-Buitrago is charged with accepting bribes from Gonzalez-Marquez in exchange for leaking documents relating to Eastern District of New York extradition requests for narcotics traffickers. Gonzalez-Marquez, in turn, allegedly sold the information to a narcotics trafficker in exchange for the equivalent of approximately 30,000 in U.S. dollars.
If convicted, Tellez-Buitrago and Gonzalez-Marquez each face a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison, criminal forfeiture and a fine of up to $250,000.
This investigation is led by HSI, with the assistance of the DEA, Colombian National Police and the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia.