Colombian national has been extradited from Colombia to the United
States to face charges related to kidnapping and assaulting two U.S.
Army soldiers who were on temporary duty in Bogota, Colombia.
Jeffersson Arango Castellanos made his initial court appearance today
in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
According to court documents, Arango and his co-conspirators
targeted, incapacitated, and kidnapped two U.S. soldiers in Bogota. The
two victims were in an entertainment district in Bogota watching a
sporting event on the evening of March 5, 2020. While at a pub in
Bogota, the two victims lost consciousness until the following day, by
which point they had been separated. Medical examinations later
confirmed the presence of benzodiazepines in their systems. The
defendants are alleged to have targeted the two victims at the pub,
incapacitated them with drugs, and kidnapped them to acquire the
victims’ valuables and credit and debit card information.
Arango and his co-conspirators are each charged with kidnapping an
internationally protected person, conspiracy to kidnap an
internationally protected person, assaulting an internationally
protected person, and conspiracy to assault an internationally protected
person. If convicted, they each face a maximum penalty of life in
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice
Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the
Southern District of Florida, and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B.
Veltri of the FBI Miami Field Office made the announcement.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the
Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section’s Judicial Attaché Office in Bogota,
and the U.S. Marshals Service provided significant assistance in
securing the arrest and extradition of the defendant. The United States
also thanks Colombian law enforcement authorities for their valuable
Trial Attorneys Clayton O’Connor and Elizabeth Nielson of the
Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dayron Silverio for the Southern District of
Florida are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are
presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a
court of law.