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, and guaranteed members of the FARC that they would not be extradited for crimes committed before December 1, 2016, in furtherance of the insurgency.
According to information 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 indicted in the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, that she could help them avoid extradition to the United States and 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, on-going criminal investigations were affected as these defendants would not cooperate with investigators or prosecutors. In exchange, Ramirez was paid in excess of $3,000,000 USD by the large-scale Colombian drug traffickers.
Ramirez was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 10, 2018. She faces up to 20 years in federal prison. The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of 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 by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration Offices from the Dallas Field Division, Miami Field Division, and the Bogota Country Office. This case was prosecuted by 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.