HOUSTON – Three Colombian members of the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional aka ELN) have been arrested on multiple drug-related charges after being indicted by a local grand jury.
According to a news release, Yamit Picon-Rodriguez, aka Choncha, 36; Jose Gabriel Alvarez-Ortiz, aka Alex, 26, and Henry Trigos-Celon, aka Moncho Picada, 43, were arrested on charges of drug trafficking, narco-terrorism and cocaine distribution.
The Houston divisions of the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation, in conjunction with the Houston Police Department and partners in Bogota, Columbia, officials said.
A Houston grand jury returned the three-count indictment on Feb 12, and, according to the indictment, the suspects were “involved in an ongoing 20-year conspiracy to distribute cocaine from Colombia to the United States knowing or intending to provide pecuniary support to the ELN.”
“As alleged, for decades, ELN produced and exported tons of cocaine to the U.S., using communities in America to fund their terrorist activities,” said DEA Acting Administrator Timothy Shea. “These enforcement actions have dealt a major blow to the ELN and are a true testament to the power of partnerships. (The) DEA remains dedicated to our partners around the globe in the shared mission of bringing narco-terrorists to justice.”
ELN leader Villegas-Palomino, aka Carlos El Puerco, 38; Jaime Miguel Picon-Rodriguez, aka Chencho and Jairo, 38, and Diomedes Barbosa-Montaño, aka El Burro, 38, are all fugitives wanted on the same charges.
The U.S. Department of State through its Narcotics Rewards Program is offering up to a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Villegas-Palomino, according to the release.
Anyone with information is asked to contact their local FBI or call 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324) for the “major case contact center.”