Who's whoBy Time Staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 4, 2003
BARUCH VEGA, 56 aka, Dr. B Fashion photographer and undercover law enforcement asset in America's war on drugs. Colombian born, moved to United States in mid 1970s. Clients include international models, Colombian drug traffickers and various branches of U.S. law enforcement. Status: Photographing models, working with new traffickers looking to turn themselves in, living in Florida.
ALEJANDRO BERNAL, 43, aka Juvenal (Young One), Tony, The key target of Operation Millennium, said to have brought smuggling into the computer age and exported 20 to 30 tons of cocaine a month. Former kitchen cabinet salesman, partnered with Mexico's top drug boss, Amado Carillo Fuentes (aka, Lord of the Skies). Admits he made some $10-million by trafficking cocaine. Supplied guns to Colombia's illegal paramilitary forces. Childhood friend of Fabio Ochoa. Status: Pleaded guilty April 17, 2003, to conspiring to smuggle 20 tons of cocaine; can substantially reduce minimum 20-year term by cooperating; expected to testify against Fabio Ochoa.
FABIO OCHOA, 45, One of the Medellin cartel's top members in the 1980s, along with brothers Jorge and Juan David. Jailed six years in Colombia in 1990s. Says he never returned to drug business. Said to have served as Bernal's "mentor." Status: Extradited to Miami in 2001, charged with conspiring to smuggle 20 tons of cocaine; trial to start Monday.
CARLOS RAMON, 36, aka El Medico (The Doctor), Medellin medical student, turned to trafficking after drug lord Pablo Escobar murdered his father. Surrendered December 1999, along with brother-in-law and two cousins in Vega's $42-million cooperation deal. Status: Sentenced to 72 months for a conspiracy to smuggle drugs into Miami. By cooperating, hopes to reduce it to 34 months. Due to be released Jan. 5, 2007.
JUAN GABRIEL USUGA, 41, aka Bionico, Ramon's ex-brother-in-law, included in family package, reportedly confessed to smuggling tons of cocaine for a decade. Sentenced to 34 months, reduced to 22 months. Status: Released March 6, 2003.
JULIO CORREA, aka Julio Fierro, La Senora, Charged in 1995 with smuggling two tons of cocaine to Miami. Joined the cooperation program, served no jail time. Talked up the program at Panama "Conventions."
Status: Disappeared in Colombia in 2001; presumed murdered.
NICOLAS BERGONZOLI, Medellin rancher with ties to Colombia's illegal paramilitary forces. Indicted in 1995 for 3,300-pound drug shipment. Recruited by Vega, talked up the program at Panama meetings. Met several times with Ochoa family, and told one of them: "The difference is this, man, the difference is Baruch." Status: Cooperating, charges dropped, case sealed.
ORLANDO SANCHEZ-CRISTANCHO, 42, aka Martin, or Orlan, Highest ranking U.S.-based member in Bernal's organization, according to Operation Millennium. Worked out cooperation deal with Vega in Panama. Status: Sentenced to 63 months for money laundering, due to be released Dec. 17, 2004.
CARLOS CASTANO37, aka, El Senor, Heads the Colombian Self-Defense Forces (AUC), an illegal paramilitary army of about 18,000 financed by drug trafficking and dedicated to fighting left-wing guerrillas. Had discussions with DEA envoys about cooperating but talks broke off after the United States declared AUC a terrorist organization. Indicted in January 2002 for drug smuggling. Status: At large, presumably in mountains of Colombia.
LUIS HERNANDO GOMEZ, aka Rasguno (Scratch), Principal member, along with Diego Montoya, of Northern Valley cartel, targeted by joint FBI-DEA investigation from Miami. Indicted in 1997 for conspiracy to distribute narcotics, attended Vega's Panama meetings. Status: Still negotiating his surrender.
PABLO ESCOBAR, Kingpin of the Medellin cartel, a loose association of traffickers named for the city in northwest Colombia. Terrorized the country with car bombings and political assassinations. Status: Killed by Colombian police in December 1993.
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