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ABOVE + BELOW – The changing face of Chupeta (Lollipop)

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Juan Carlos Ramirez-Abadia was one of the most significant cocaine traffickers in Colombia, and operated primarily from the area of Cali, Colombia. Ramirez-Abadia’s activities may also have included heroin trafficking and money laundering. Ramirez-Abadia was extremely violent and has been charged with homicides in Colombia. He is alleged to have ordered the execution of several traffickers.

Aliases: Chupeta, Cien, Don Augusto, El Patron, Gustavo Ortiz, Charlie Pareja
DOB: February 16, 1963
Alt. DOB: February 19, 1963
POB: Palmira, Colombia
Nationality: Colombian
Citizenship: Colombia
Height: 5 feet 6 inches
Weight: 165 pounds
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Brown


Who is Chupeta?

Colombian drug trafficker Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía, aka Chupeta,  takes the witness stand as the third cooperative witness.

Arguably he is best known for the plastic surgery.

Oh yes, the surgeries.  He has undergone four aesthetic operations that, after changing his nose, cheekbones, eye contour and chin, he is rendered unrecognizable, from his former self… except for the fingerprints.  He was left unrecognizable in a horrific way.  What remains is a grotesque mass of flesh, occupying where his handsome face once was.

I always wondered if the surgeon lived much longer after the surgery.

The 55 year old Chupeta was arrested in Brasil in 2007.

At the time of his arrest he was the most wanted drug trafficker in the world.  Overall most wanted,  second only to Osama bin Laden.

His rise to prominence in the drug world came  after an early release of his Colombian 24 year prison sentence. He began as part of the Cali Cartel but he became part of, and leader of  the Norte del Valle cartel.

Aside from trafficking, he was a brutal, violent, bloodthirsty,  vindictive murderer.

He is accused of 15 murders in the U.S. and 300 worldwide.  And children were not off limits.  He once murdered a family of 35.  He dismembered all 35.  It was the family of   Colombian drug trafficker Víctor Patiño Fómeque, Chupeta thought he was ratting to authorities.

When he was arrested at his home, he had 160 cell phones and 60 million dollars, painstakingly hidden under wood and concrete.

DEA estimated his wealth at 1.8 Billion Dollars, he was extradited to the U.S. in 2008

This is the person whose testimony the jury is asked to believe.

Face alteration

Chupeta testified about his plastic surgery: “I had changes to my face I altered the physical appearance of my face by changing my jawbone, my cheekbones, my eyes, my mouth, my ears, my nose.” Said he had 3-4 surgeries. Seems strange he would not remember if it was 3 or 4.  Notice the new Michael Jackson cleft chin alteration.

Chupeta’s appearance is a head turner and not in a good way. His prominent  cheek implants are massive, and his face looks unnaturally stretched. His now gray hair is slicked back, with no attempt to cover any of his face.  He’s also wearing blue fabric gloves…why? No clue.


Although he is suspected of at least 300 killings, he admits between 1989 and 2007,  he killed or ordered the killing of 150 people. In 2004 he killed someone personally, shooting his victim’s face.

“My Cocaine”

He says he worked with the Sinaloa cartel for 17-18 years, supplying “my cocaine” to El Chapo, El Mayo, the Beltran-Leyva brothers, Ignacio Coronel, the Zambada brothers, the Carrillo Fuentes and Héctor “El Güero” Palma.

He says he met Chapo in 1990, in Mexico City, inside a hotel lobby, they were there for an introduction meeting, and negotiations.

The deal was entered into. Chupeta would fly cocaine to airstrips in Mexico.  Once the cocaine arrived, Chapo would then traffic it across the north border to Los Angeles.  Chupeta would receive  60%. Chapo would keep 40% as border crossing fee.

Chupeta said that normally, he would pay 37% to Mexican trafficking partners. In this case of Chapo however, he presented a good sales pitch; “He said, ‘I’m a lot faster,'” , [tunnels] Chupeta recalled. “‘Try me and you’ll see”, “And your planes, cocaine and pilots will be secure.”

Chupeta says Chapo offered  trafficking routes through Sinaloa, Sonora, Durango and Nayarit.

Prosecution argument is that Chapo agreed to give Colombian cocaine partners the upper hand in a 55%-to-45%  split.

Chupeta said he happily agreed to Chapo’s  request for the purest drug product possible because he wanted “a reputation for me, for my cocaine being so good.”

Chupeta admitted to being surprised by how fast Chapo was in transferring the drug shipments. And at the “protection” possible because of the level of corruption in Mexico. “seizures in Mexico were scarce”.  “The transport  was super-fast,  less than a week.  The other Mexican Narcos took “a month or more.”

Mexico’s federal police protected shipments, also receiving the cocaine loads and conducted the transfer.  “Their corruption arrangements were effective, they were good.” “That was one of the first times the Mexican drug traffickers delivered my cocaine that quickly,” Ramirez said.

That is why we called him “El Rapido”.

The first drug shipment arrived in five planes carrying 4 tons, landing on a runway in Los Mochis, Sinaloa.  Chupeta says “My planes were received by Mexican Federal Police who took the cargo in Suburban’s to the border.

It was almost a 20 year business partnership,  in which 400,000 kilos of Chupeta’s cocaine was smuggled into the U.S. by Chapo.

Giving the jurors a visual of the quantities being moved, the jurors were shown just 10 kilos of cocaine,  which filled a massive dog food-sized sack.

Chupeta testifies that he bribed authorities in Colombia to destroy any criminal records naming him, while he was overseeing the Norte del Valle cartel.

The witness explained how they processed cocaine, “We added sulfuric acid, ether, acetone, potassium, gasoline, and other chemicals.”

Voice recognition was used to identify Chupeta.  This because of his altered face, they had to identify him to attain a search warrant.

BACKGROUND: Colombian Drug Lord Vanishes After Conviction… in the US!


A major Colombian drug trafficker who willingly sought extradition to the United States—even offering a $40 million bribe to officials in Brazil to send him to the US—apparently knew what he was doing. After being extradited and convicted in Federal Court in New York of felony drug charges that could have put him in jail for life, he disappeared.

His name is Juan Carlos Ramirez-Abadia (nickname: Lollipop). He’s a figure in the recent scandal over the President of Costa Rica’s use of a drug plane belonging to Gabriel Morales Fallon, who was identified as one of his former lieutenants.

Juan Carlos Abadia’s extradition to the US from Brazil in 2008 received major media coverage.The DEA was calling him the biggest drug cartel boss since Pablo Escobar. They say he led the world’s biggest drug cartel, exporting more than 500 tons of cocaine—worth in excess of $10 billion—just to the United States alone.

His name was in the news again several months later, when he asked (citing claustrophobia) to be placed in a bigger detention cell while awaiting trial in New York.

But when he pled guilty in March of 2010 to felony counts of drug trafficking and racketeering, not one newspaper in America carried the story. His conviction went completely unreported. The DEA didn’t didn’t even issue a press release.

It was as if, when Pablo Escobar was gunned down in Colombia, the story didn’t make the news.

Where is “My Boy Lollipop?”

Court documents indicate Abadia was sentenced to 25 years in Federal prison. But a search of the prisoner locater at the Federal Bureau of Prisons website does not list his name as among those currently incarcerated.

The Assistant US Attorney in charge of the Abadia case, Carolyn Pokorny, declined to comment on his whereabouts.

And that’s where the trail ends, at least for the moment.

Another anomaly: There is no record of his sentencing.  Among the official court documents available through PACER is a transcript of a hearing held before the court accepted Abadia’s guilty plea, to ensure he understood his rights, and was pleading guilty voluntarily. There is a binding 9-page forfeiture agreement. Abadia agreed to forfeit $10 billion (that’s billion with a ‘b’) in currency and property to the US Government.  There is also an order by District Judge Sandra Townes accepting his guilty plea.

But—more than two years later—there is no record of his being sentenced. Whether the discrepancy concerns missing documents, years-long deferred sentencing, or some other cause is unknown at this time.

“Almighty Latin Kings and Queens” Beware

The situation is more than puzzling. On what should have been a banner day for the DEA and the Department of Justice, Drug Kingpin Juan Carlos Ramirez-Abadia was well on his way to being erased from public memory.

As an organization, the DEA has shown that it excels at only one thing: shamelessly flogging its own dubious achievements. That, and putting the best face possible on the long-ago lost drug war.

So why did they pass up the chance to announce they’d bagged & tagged the biggest drug lord to walk the earth since Pablo Escobar fell off a roof?

A search of March 2010 press releases on the Department of Justice’s national website turned up . headlines announcing that a member of the almighty latin king and queens,” sentenced to 210 months for his role in a drug conspiracy; and a “maryland man,” convicted of sex trafficking, firearms and gun charges.

But nothing about Abadia’s conviction.

One headline looked promising. It announced that a “leader of colombian narco-terrorist organization” had been sentenced to more than 20 years for conspiring to import tons of cocaine into the U.S

Alas, the DEA, as is well-known, plays favorites, and the narco-terrorist kingpin fixin’ to do time had been a leader of the gritty and perennially out-of-favor-in-Washington FARC. Abadia, on the other hand,  had taken over the remnants of the “bandana-free” Cali Cartel, and turned it into the powerhouse North Valley Cartel.

A search of contemporaneous press releases on the US Attorney’s own website in Brooklyn showed they hadn’t even issued the standard boilerplate press release, thanking the DEA and the hard-working men and women of law enforcement etc., while trumpeting the significance of Ramirez-Abadia’s conviction.

A check of that month’s press releases at the national Department of Justice’s Eastern District of New York site turned up bloods gang members indicted on murder and racketeering. There was a headline touting a “leader of violent drug crew getting life in prison, while another, “leader of violent drug crew, unconnected and slightly luckier than the first, was being dished out  27 years.

But not one word about the (local!) conviction of a man who’d just admitted to shipping 500 tons of cocaine to the US.

A lot of money changing hands

Authorities estimated that Abadia’s North Valley Cartel employed hundreds of people, and controlled 60 percent of the drugs leaving Colombia for the United States and Europe each year, a significantly higher percentage than the Medellin bad boys– who always lagged the Cali Cartel, never mind the DEA–controlled in its heyday.

His employees weren’t stringing up narco-banners over highways, or sharpening their machetes, cutting up corpses into pieces small enough to fit into 55-gallon drums or strapping bandoliers across their chests.  They were international businessmen and women, manufacturing and transporting multi-ton loads of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico, destined for the US market for Abadia’s Drug Division; or counting and then launderering money, or couriering it for the Money Laundering Division.

They doled out bribes to police, politicians and military officials in the cartel’s Corruption Division; or carried out murder, torture, kidnapping and violent drug debt collections for the “Office of the Sicarios.”

Law enforcement officials have confiscated more than 24 tons of cocaine from Abadia’s cartel associates, seized hundreds of properties; and dozens of legitimate corporations: pharmaceutical distribution companies, major currency exchanges, even thoroughbred horse breeding farms.

The Silence of those on the lam

Excessive government secrecy has long been common in cases involving national security. Less understandably, it is also common—suspiciously common—in cases involving drug trafficking.

The level of secrecy in the Abadia case is reminiscent of what was recently reported here involving a key figure in the biggest drug seizure on an airplane in Mexican history, the 5.5 tons of cocaine on a dc-9 from st. petersburg, florida.

Tracing the money from that massive drug bust led directly to the forced sale in 2008 of Wachovia, then America’s 4th largest bank.

When a key figure in that case pled guilty to unrelated drug charges two years ago in a Federal Court in Miami, it was a secret to journalists, as well as to probation officials preparing his Pre-Sentence Report (PSI). It was even a secret to the Federal judge. Court transcripts reveal she was unaware the man she was sentencing had been a key figure in a case that brought down America’s 4th largest bank.

Another “only in Miami” moment? Or something more?

The temptation was to write the “oversight” off as one of those “only in Miami moments,” which are encountered regularly by observers of judicial proceedings in South Florida.

(Another is upcoming in two weeks, when men associated with the Gambino Family go on trail for the murder of Gus Boulis, more than seven years after their arrest in 2006.)

But now its happened in Brooklyn, too.

Are there similarities between events in Miami and Brooklyn?

One stands out: the Asst. US Attorney’s in each case specializes in major drug traffickers. In Miami, asst us attorney hoffman handles everything involving Colombians.  When asked to comment on the false identity under which she prosecuted a key figure in the 5.5 ton DC-9 story, she declined.

In Brooklyn, asst us attorney carolyn pokorny  handles “all the big Colombian cases.” Regarding the current whereabouts of the man she two years ago helped send to Federal prison for 25 years, she offered to put us in touch with the Court’s Public Information Specialist.

Might the reason both appear so tight-lipped be that they’ve been “read into” a sensitive and highly classified US operation involving drug trafficking which has been ongoing for decades now, and whose survival demands that the rest of America remain ignorant?

Are these two well-placed Asst US Attorneys privy to information which indicates that US drug policy differentiates between drug traffickers who smuggle drugs for US interests… and everybody else?

and more BACKGROUND: ¿Who is Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía?


I am sure you remember the great Pirulito from the “Snitch Cartel”. ¿Did you know that his real name is Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía and that his nickname is “Chupeta” (lollipop)? Stay with me so you can find out more about his life.

¿Who is Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía?

In all human activity, there is always someone who is distinguished, not for getting the same and more than others dedicated to it but for their personal characteristics, for being one of a kind. Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía is one of those.

Many of the colleagues of the drug dealers union come from fragmented families, from an overwhelming poverty that led them to abandon their studies to collaborate with the maintenance of the numerous offspring that make up their family group, from humble jobs that does not allow them to earn enough to finance what they call a decent life. Life pushed them until that moment where they decide to live on the margin and put everything on risk.

Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía, aka Chupeta, was born on February 19, 1963, in the very hot Palmira, a city near Cali. Juan Carlos was distinguished for his sophisticated manners, coming from a family of upper middle class, who after his degree of Economist, aspired to see him graduate in a very expensive Masters in business administration.

¿Why was Juan Carlos Ramírez Nicknamed Chupeta?

Juan Carlos earned the nickname of Chupeta due to his obsession with the so-called Colombinas, a popular trademark of a candy known generically as lollipop.

¿How did Juan Carlos Ramírez start in drug trafficking?

Juan Carlos entered the narcotics distribution business, doing an internship in the laboratories owned by Orlando Henao Montoya under the orders of the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers, emblematic representatives of the Cali Cartel.

Later, Chupeta would climb positions until he became one of the leaders of the North Valley Cartel.

Juan Carlos the Violent

“Chupeta” was a person who has not given into discussions and to delegate certain tasks such as the elimination of subjects who showed little willingness to collaborate with his objectives, so he took care of it himself.

This was demonstrated when he murdered 35 members of the family of Víctor Patiño, a former member of the Cali Cartel, who decided to provide information to the Colombian and US police authorities in exchange for procedural benefits. In addition to the extermination of the Patiño family, the murders of Juan Carlos Ortiz Escobar aka “Cuchilla” and Luis Ocampo Fómeque aka “Tocayo” are attributed to him.

Juan Carlos Ramírez and his obsession with “caletas”

Besides lollipops he had another obsession: “caletas”. By such they are understood voluminous packages of cash that he hid in his properties. Police authorities reported the seizure of four of them with amounts of 68, 21 and two of 17 million US dollars, in addition to 309 gold bars valued at 6.3 million dollars.

“Chupeta” used to keep the money in cash by packing it in vacuum-sealed plastic bags to reduce the effects of moisture on the bills. Experts estimate that no less than 2 million dollars in cash must have been lost in the jaws of insects.

Juan Carlos Ramírez with the proceeds of his illicit activities, during his stay in Brazil he acquired 28 mostly luxury real estate properties in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Santa Catarina, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Curitiba and Sao Paulo.

¿How was Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía Captured?

The end of his partnership with Wilber Varela aka “Jabón” led him to leave Colombia to settle in Brazil, where he received the profits of his extensive distribution network installed in the cities of Los Angeles and New York after going through an intricate web of companies located in places as far apart as New York, Mexico City, Madrid, Montevideo and Sao Paulo as a final destination in order to complicate the eventual tracking of funds that the judicial authorities of the countries where he carry out his illegal activities could do.

His efforts to circumvent the authorities trying to disguise his activities associated with drug trafficking and money laundering, as well as resorting to plastic surgeries to modify facial features and make it difficult to identify them, were useless since he was captured along with 12 collaborators on August 7, 2007, as a final result of the investigations in which organizations actively engaged in combating drug trafficking from the United States, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia and Spain actively participated. In July 2008, the Brazilian government handed him over to judicial agents of the United States.

The capture of “Chupeta” meant the fall of the last Colombian drug trafficker of the nineties; According to the authorities, the amount of money produced by Chupeta’s business exceeds the one of Pablo Escobar Gaviria. It is estimated that he came to own a fortune of 28 billion dollars.

Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía and Television

The druglord appears in the popular series The Snitch Cartel under the name of John Mario Martínez, aka Pirulito. In the first season, the actor Juan Pablo Raba plays him, while in the second season the actor Camilo Sáenz does the job.

and more BACKGROUND: Reputed Colombian Drug Lord Gets 30 Years


A reputed Colombian drug lord whose cartel is accused of having shipped hundreds of tons of cocaine to the United States was sentenced Tuesday to more than 30 years in prison in Brazil for crimes commmitted in that country.

Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia, who was arrested last year in Brazil, was found guilty of money laundering, corruption, conspiracy and use of false documents in this South American country. Besides the sentence, Ramirez Abadia must also pay a fine worth US$2.5 million.

“It was proved that after July of 2004, Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia has channeled his business in Brazil mainly toward the acquisition of properties, vehicles, and other objects using the money resulting from drug trafficking in Colombia,” Judge Fausto Martin de Sanctis said in a statement.

But Ramirez Abadia, who is also known as “Chupeta” or “Lollipop,” may not have to serve time in Brazil.

Last month, Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled he can be extradited to the United States to face racketeering charges. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will have the final word on whether he stays in Brazil to serve his sentence or is extradited immediately to the United States.

In his ruling, the judge advised against extraditing Ramirez Abadia until he has served his time in Brazil.

Ramirez Abadia, who is reputedly a leader of Colombia’s powerful Norte del Valle cartel, has said he wants to begin his confinement in the United States as quickly as possible.

Brazil’s Supreme Court has said the United States must agree not to sentence Ramirez Abadia to more than 30 years in jail, the maximum allowed under Brazilian law, in order for the extradition to take place.

Ramirez Abadia’s wife, Yessica Paolo Rojas Morales, was sentenced to 11 years and six months in prison for her participation in Ramirez Abadia’s operations. Eight other people were also convicted.

Last fall, U.S. officials sought Ramirez Abadia’s extradition to face racketeering charges under a 2004 indictment – charges that could bring a lengthy sentence but not the death penalty. His cartel allegedly shipped 550 tons of cocaine to the United States from 1990 to 2003.

In the U.S. indictment, Ramirez Abadia and other gang members were accused of routinely killing their rivals and individuals who failed to pay for drugs. He also was accused of killing a gang member he suspected was an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

The Colombian has acknowledged using profits from cocaine shipments to buy businesses that police say included cattle ranches, industrial property, mansions and hotels.

Ramirez Abadia claims he left Colombia for Brazil because he feared he might be killed by rival drug gang members and said he was not involved in drug trafficking in Brazil.

In January, he offered to hand over tens of millions of dollars in exchange for a quick extradition to the United States and his wife’s release from jail, but the offer was rejected and ordered him to turn over all his assets without setting conditions.

and more BACKGROUND: Treasury Designation Targets Elusive North Valle Cartel Leader


The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today added to its list of Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers four individuals and two companies tied to Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia, a leader of Colombia’s North Valle drug cartel.

“Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia has been one of the most powerful and most elusive drug traffickers in Colombia,” said Adam J. Szubin, Director of OFAC. “Today we are exposing and taking action against elements of his financial network for the first time, including seemingly legitimate companies built upon narcotics proceeds.”

The four individuals act as front persons for North Valle cartel leader Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia (a.k.a. Chupeta or “Lollipop”), who was named a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker (SDNT) by OFAC in August 2000. These front individuals operate a Colombian pharmaceutical distribution company, Disdrogas Ltda., on behalf of Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia. Also designated today was a Colombian holding company named Ramirez Abadia y Cia. S.C.S.

Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia began his illicit career in narcotics trafficking with Colombia’s Cali drug cartel. He was indicted on federal drug trafficking charges in Colorado in 1994 and the Eastern District of New York in 1995. Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia surrendered to Colombian authorities in 1996. Following his release from a Colombian prison in 2002, Ramirez Abadia continued his trafficking activities and closely allied himself with the North Valle drug cartel. In 2004, the District Court for the District of Columbia indicted the North Valle drug cartel under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and named Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia as one of its leaders.

Ramirez Abadia founded the holding company Ramirez y Cia. Ltda. in the late 1980s, early in his narcotics trafficking career. Ramirez Abadia eventually changed the name of the company to Disdrogas Ltda. and placed the official ownership and management in the hands of persons he could trust to protect his asset. These trusted persons included his parents, Omar Ramirez Ponce and Carmen Alicia Abadia Bastidas, and his business associates Jorge Rodrigo Salinas Cuevas and Edgar Marino Otalora Restrepo, all of whom were named today by OFAC. In addition, OFAC has designated the Colombian holding company Ramirez Abadia y Cia. S.C.S., which was created to hold real estate and other assets for Ramirez Abadia.

SDNTs are subject to the economic sanctions imposed against Colombian drug cartels in Executive Order 12978. Today’s action freezes any assets found in the United States and prohibits all financial and commercial transactions by U.S. persons involving the designees.

The assets of a total of 1,294 businesses and individuals in Aruba, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Spain, Vanuatu, Venezuela, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and the United States have been designated by OFAC pursuant E.O. 12978. The 489 currently designated businesses include agricultural, aviation, consulting, construction, distribution, financial, horse breeding, hotels, investment, manufacturing, maritime, mining, offshore, industrial paper, pharmaceutical, real estate and service firms. The SDNT list includes 19 kingpins from the Cali, North Valle and North Coast drug cartels in Colombia.

and more BACKGROUND: Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadíaírez_Abadía


Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía (Alias “Chupeta”) (born February 16, 1963 in PalmiraColombia) is a drug trafficker who, until his capture, was one of the leaders of the North Valley Cartel (Norte del Valle Cartel), who was wanted on drug smuggling, murder and RICO charges in the United States of America. In addition to the trafficking of cocaine, it is believed Abadia also participated in money laundering and trafficking of heroin. Through Abadias’ illegal enterprise, he has amassed a fortune estimated at $1.8 billion by the US Department of State. He has been cited as “… one of the most powerful and most elusive drug traffickers in Colombia” by Adam J. Szubin, Director of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control(OFAC).[1][2][3][4]

On August 7, 2007 Ramírez Abadía was arrested in São PauloBrazil, in an exclusive area called Aldeia da Serra, in the company of his homosexual lover, a local bodybuilder[5][6] On March 13, 2008, the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil granted his extradition to the United States.[7] “Chupeta” was extradited to the United States on Friday, August 22, 2008.[8]

Relations to Cali cartel

Abadia is believed to have entered into drug trafficking in 1986 under the Cali Cartel, named after the area they operated out of, Cali Colombia, where it is believed Abadia operated his drug trafficking empire. By the mid-1990s he was believed to have smuggled “multi-thousand kilograms of cocaine” yearly into San Antonio, Texas and Los Angeles, California through Mexico. Abadias’ operation is believed to rely on shipping containers and go-fast boats primarily, making use of routes along the Pacific Coast. Once the drugs arrive in their destination in the United States, it is then believed they are transported to New York City, where distribution cells controlled by Abadia then sell the product. During the mid-1990s Abadia was believed to be the youngest leader of the Cali cartel.[1][2][4]

Abadia surrendered in March 1996 to Colombian officials and was sentenced to 24 years in prison. It is believed Abadia surrendered due to a fear for his personal safety and to be eligible for a more lenient prison sentence. Prior to his arrest, it is estimated Abadia smuggled a total of twenty metric tons of cocaine. The United States Department of State believes Abadia continued his operation and control over smuggling throughout his time in prison, and continued upon his early release in 2002. In 2003, the US State Department believes Abadia expanded his operation and began smuggling heroin into the US through ships. It is also believed Abadia began to associate himself with the Norte del Valle cartel upon his release from prison.[1][2][4][9]

In November 1994, Abadia was indicted in the District of Colorado,in 2004 in the Eastern District of New York and, again indicted in 2006 in Eastern District of New York. Between state indictments a federal jury in March, 2004 brought forth a federal indictment on RICO charges, for his leadership in the Norte del Valle cartel, and drug trafficking. Requests from the Department of State to Colombia for the extradition of Abadia were denied. A provisional arrest warrant has been issued and sent to the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, as well as, a 5 million dollar bounty placed on Abadia for his arrest.[1][2][10]

In August 2000 the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) declared Abadia a “Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker,” allowing the seizure of funds connected to, or stemming from his illegal activities. The OFAC announced on August 29, 2006, the seizure of assets from two companies related to Abadia, a pharmaceutical distribution companyDisdrogas Ltda.and a Colombian holdings companyRamirez Abadia y Cia. S.C.S. Disdrogas Ltda., originally named Ramirez y Cia. Ltda’, was operated by Abadias’ parents Omar Ramírez Ponce and Carmen Alicia Abadía Bastidas, and his business associates Jorge Rodrigo Salinas Cuevas and Edgar Marino Otalora Restrepo. The now defunct Ramirez Abadia y Cia. S.C.S was believed to be used to hold real estate and other assets for Abadia.[2][3]

In January 2007, Colombian officials stepped up efforts to combat the drug cartels in a series of raids targeting their financial holdings. In a one-week period Colombian officials discovered over $54 million in cash and gold ingots, hidden in buildings in the south-eastern portion of Cali. The stash of money and gold was located in vacuum sealed plastic bags inside locked steel chambers covered in concrete which was tiled over. The residents of the houses were arrested and taken into custody. The $54 million was only a small portion of the estimated $1.8 billion estimated fortune.[4][11][12][13]

On August 7, 2007, Abadia was arrested in Aldeia da Serra, a wealthy neighborhood of Barueristate of São Paulo, by Brazilian Federal Police during a raid.[14] An auction of his belongings following his arrest led to an enormous queue of Brazilians trying to get their hands on one of the drug lord’s goods.[15]