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Operation Millennium

By Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 4, 2003

[Times photos: John Pendygraft]
Baruch Vega photographs Kendra Smith in Miami Beach.
Vega, right, and assistant, Alvaro Guerra set up a shot at Loews Miami Beach hotel.
Special report
Plan Colombia, extradition and informers
By the time Operation Millennium was unveiled late in 1999, Colombia and the United States were putting the final touches on a new antidrug strategy called Plan Colombia.
Who's who
BARUCH VEGA, 56 aka, Dr. B Fashion photographer and undercover law enforcement asset in America's war on drugs.
Operation Millennium
Investigation: 12-month, joint U.S.-Colombian effort, unveiled Oct. 13, 1990 . . .
Vega's world
For more than three decades, fashion photographer Baruch Vega accepted a variety of assignments ...
Sources for this special report
The story of Operation Millennium sits in a bulging docket at the federal. . .
Part Two: Family business
The Ochoa clan went from breeding horses to trafficking drugs and back again. Now the family has gone into another business: defending one of its own

Investigation: 12-month, joint U.S.-Colombian effort, unveiled Oct. 13, 1999; employed sophisticated wiretaps and camera surveillance; run by DEA's Group 9 in Fort Lauderdale and assisted by DEA agents at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota.

Targeted Alejandro Bernal, who operated clearinghouse for some of Colombia's most prolific cocaine producers. Syndicate said to have smuggled 20 to 30 tons of cocaine a month, through Mexico, to the United States.

Prosecution: 43 people indicted, all but one in Colombia; to date, 33 have been extradited and 17 have pleaded, for an average sentence of 61/2 years.

Drugs seized: More than 9.5 tons of cocaine seized at sea; another 10-ton shipment interrupted in planning stages.

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Special report
  • Dr. B and Group 43
  • Plan Colombia, extradition and informers
  • Who's who
  • Operation Millennium
  • Vega's world
  • Sources for this special report
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