Yesterday in Manhanttan, Ericson Vargas Cardona, leader of the violent La Oficina de Envigado drug cartel, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for importing “massive amounts” blow into the United States. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic cocaine and using a semiautomatic weapon to do so.
Prosecutors said that from 2000 to 2012, Vargas was a member of La Oficina, which began as a debt collection agency associated with the paramilitary organization United Self-Defenses Forces of Colombia.
Authorities said La Oficina collected debts for drug traffickers and invested in drug shipments before eventually producing cocaine independently, and also engaged in systemic bribery of Colombian officials and violence.
Prosecutors said Vargas began working for La Oficina by stealing cars and eventually became an assassin.
He continued to rise through its ranks, and after his predecessor surrendered to authorities in 2009, became its leader, prosecutors said.
“Armed with machine guns, explosives, and a grenade launcher, Vargas Cardona distributed his drugs all over the world, including the United States,” reads a portion of a statement from Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Vargas was captured by Colombian authorities in 2012. A long manhunt for the kingpin ended at a farm used to store a cache of weapons and explosives, which included, “69 bars of C4 explosives, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and machine and sub-machine guns.” He was extradited to the US in 2013.
Through a translator, Vargas (dressed in jail attire) expressed that he has “come to be happy that life has come to an end.”