PLANO, Texas – A Colombian lawyer has been convicted of federal obstruction violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today.
Maritza Claudia Fernanda Lorza Ramirez, 48, was convicted of obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting following a week-long trial before U.S. District Judge Sean D. Jordan.
A peace agreement signed in 2016 between the Colombian government and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) ended a conflict between the two. In addition, it guaranteed that they would not extradite FARC members for crimes committed before December 1, 2016, in furtherance of the insurgency.
It is according to information that they presented in court beginning in 2016. Ramirez, a Colombian attorney, informed at least seven defendants indicted in the Eastern District of Texas and multiple defendants in the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida that she could help them avoid extradition to the United States. Furthermore, it stated that she could corruptly assist them in adding their names to the list of FARC members to avoid extradition to the United States. As a result, ongoing criminal investigations were affected as these defendants would not cooperate with investigators or prosecutors. In exchange, Ramirez was paid more than $3,000,000 by the large-scale Colombian drug traffickers.
A federal grand jury indicted Ramirez on May 10, 2018, and she faces up to 20 years in federal prison. The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the court will determine the sentencing based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will come after completing a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.
“Ramirez offered services to Colombian drug traffickers, who were not members of the FARC, promising them they could be fraudulently placed on the FARC list and avoid extradition to and prosecution in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston. “Not only did Claudia’s actions pervert the rule of law and the peace process in Colombia, but they also hindered ongoing investigations, facilitating the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. by protecting dangerous drug traffickers. We applaud the effort by agents of the DEA and our Colombian partners to bring Ramirez to justice.”
This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States. They use a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
The Drug Enforcement Administration Offices from the Dallas Field Division, Miami Field Division, and the Bogota Country Office investigated the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Texas, with special assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, prosecuted the case.