A Colombian national has been extradited from Colombia to the United States to face charges related to kidnapping and assaulting two U.S. Army soldiers who were on temporary duty in Bogota, Colombia.
Jeffersson Arango Castellanos made his initial court appearance today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
According to court documents, Arango and his co-conspirators targeted, incapacitated, and kidnapped two U.S. soldiers in Bogota. The two victims were in an entertainment district in Bogota watching a sporting event on the evening of March 5, 2020. While at a pub in Bogota, the two victims lost consciousness until the following day, by which point they had been separated. Medical examinations later confirmed the presence of benzodiazepines in their systems. The defendants are alleged to have targeted the two victims at the pub, incapacitated them with drugs, and kidnapped them to acquire the victims’ valuables and credit and debit card information.
Arango and his co-conspirators are each charged with kidnapping an internationally protected person, conspiracy to kidnap an internationally protected person, assaulting an internationally protected person, and conspiracy to assault an internationally protected person. If convicted, they each face a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of the FBI Miami Field Office made the announcement.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section’s Judicial Attaché Office in Bogota, and the U.S. Marshals Service provided significant assistance in securing the arrest and extradition of the defendant. The United States also thanks Colombian law enforcement authorities for their valuable assistance.
Trial Attorneys Clayton O’Connor and Elizabeth Nielson of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dayron Silverio for the Southern District of Florida are prosecuting the case.