Action Designates Former Venezuelan Military Official, Previously Indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, Who Aided Mexican Drug Cartels
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated Venezuelan national, Vassyly Kotosky Villarroel Ramirez, as a drug kingpin pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). Villarroel Ramirez, a former Captain in Venezuela’s National Guard (Guardia Nacional), was designated for the significant role he plays in international narcotics trafficking in both Colombia and Venezuela. While serving as a Captain in Venezuela’s National Guard, Villarroel Ramirez arranged for the transportation of loads of cocaine as well as the U.S. dollar proceeds from the sale of the cocaine, using various airports, seaports, and official government vehicles in Venezuela. Today’s action complements a 2011 indictment against Villarroel Ramirez by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) on multiple cocaine trafficking charges.
“Villarroel Ramirez is a prime example of a narcotics trafficker who exploited his former military position and connections to facilitate the transport of cocaine to Mexico and profit from the sales that followed,” said Treasury’s Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Adam J. Szubin. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement colleagues to target this type of abusive behavior which perpetuates the criminal violence linked to the narcotics trade.”
Villarroel Ramirez provided security and protection when cocaine loads and the proceeds from Mexico were smuggled from or into Venezuela’s Maiquetía International Airport via commercial or private aircraft. He facilitated the cocaine loads from Colombia through Venezuela in partnership with known drug traffickers such as Daniel Barrera Barrera (alias “El Loco Barrera”), Javier Antonio Calle Serna (alias “Comba”), and Jose Gerardo Alvarez Vazquez (alias “El Indio”) – all of whom have been designated as foreign narcotics traffickers under the Kingpin Act. The cocaine shipments benefited Mexican drug trafficking organizations, specifically the Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas, and the Beltran Leyva Organization – all of which have been identified by the President as significant foreign narcotics traffickers under the Kingpin Act.
On March 30, 2011, Villarroel Ramirez and a co-conspirator were indicted in the EDNY on six counts of cocaine trafficking-related charges. According to the indictment, between January 2004 and December 2009 Villarroel Ramirez and the co-conspirator imported thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia through Venezuela to Mexico, for transportation to and distribution within the United States. Also, Villarroel Ramirez is reportedly charged with narcotics trafficking and money laundering in Venezuela since 2008.
Today’s action, taken pursuant to the Kingpin Act, generally prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with Villarroel Ramirez and freezes any assets he may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
This action would not have been possible without the support of the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Since June 2000, the President has identified 103 drug kingpins, and OFAC has designated more than 1,300 businesses and individuals, pursuant to the Kingpin Act. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.
view a chart about Villarroel Ramirez’s activities, click here.