NEW YORK — A Colombian national, and international narcotics trafficker and money launderer, was returned to his home country Nov. 26 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) deportation officers. This follows a joint investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Colombian law enforcement authorities, which led to his conviction of conspiring to import cocaine as a narco-terrorism conspiracy.
ERO deportation officers returned Jose Evaristo Linares-Castillo, 52, to Colombia via an ICE Air Operations Charter flight and transferred him into the custody of Colombian law enforcement authorities.
On June 14, 2011, Linares-Castillo was indicted in U.S. District Court-Southern District of Florida (SDFL), on drug trafficking and money laundering charges. In May 2012, Linares-Castillo was arrested by Colombian authorities and transported to the U.S. to stand trial. In March 2015, Linares-Castillo was indicted in U.S. District Court-Southern District of New York (SDNY) on drug trafficking, narco-terrorism, and providing material support to a terrorist organization charges. On Nov. 7, 2016, Linares-Castillo was convicted in SDNY of conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States, narco-terrorism conspiracy, conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was sentenced to 100 months in federal custody with credit for time served in Colombia and the United States. On Oct. 16, 2018, Linares-Castillo was resentenced in SDNY to time served. On Oct. 18, 2018, he was transferred to ICE custody while the agency finalized his return.
According to court records, In February 2013, Linares-Castillo, was designated as a Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT) by the Department of Justice, a designation given to the most significant narcotics traffickers in the world. He was responsible for overseeing the manufacture and transportation of thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Venezuela to Central America and the Caribbean. Linares-Castillo used many lieutenants and independent sub-contractors to transport cocaine produced in his Colombian laboratories. Linares-Castillo’s organization maintained possession of approximately 20,000 kilograms of cocaine cached in Apure, Venezuela, near the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) controlled clandestine airstrips, where the cocaine laden aircrafts were launched. The FARC, is a foreign terrorist organization.
Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 1,700 foreign fugitives from the United States who were sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. In fiscal year 2017, ICE conducted 226,119 removals nationwide. Eighty-three percent of individuals removed from the interior of the United States had previously been convicted of a criminal offense.