Fabian Emilio Zapata Taborda, also known as “Milo” and “Milito,” was arraigned today before United States District Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn on an indictment charging him with leading an international cocaine distribution conspiracy. The defendant, a Colombian citizen, was arrested in Colombia on a provisional arrest warrant issued from the Eastern District of New York and subsequently extradited from Colombia to the United States on November 12, 2021. Zapata Taborda was ordered detained pending trial. The defendant has been designated a Consolidated Priority Organization Target (“CPOT”) by the Department of Justice, a designation given to the most significant narcotics traffickers in the world.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Ray Donovan, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division (DEA), Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), and Kevin P. Bruen, Superintendent, New York State Police (NYSP), announced the extradition and arraignment.
“As alleged in the indictment, the defendant was the leader of one of Colombia’s largest drug trafficking enterprises that supplied massive, metric ton quantities of cocaine to some of the most violent drug trafficking organizations in the United States, the Caribbean, Central America, and Europe,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “The Department of Justice is committed to working with our international partners to dismantle destructive networks of drug trafficking organizations that seek to spread dangerous and addictive narcotics throughout the world.” Mr. Peace extended his appreciation to the DEA’s office in Bogota, Colombia, the United States Marshals Service, the United States Department of State, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the Colombian National Police, and the Government of Colombia.
“After years of supplying multi-ton quantities of cocaine to American criminal organizations, Zapata Taborda is finally facing justice at the hands of the U.S. government,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Donovan. “This significant arrest and extradition shows DEA’s commitment to save lives and bring criminals to justice in collaboration with our law enforcement partners.”
“The waves of internationally trafficked narcotics alleged in this case, which to our hardworking NYPD officers represent countless lives harmed and threatened across our city, are ended with this extradition and indictment. I commend our investigators, our law enforcement partners and the prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, for their work in this case and for their continuing promise to fight this illegal scourge with every tool at our disposal,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.
“I commend the dedicated teamwork of our federal, state and local partners, which was instrumental in this case and bringing a dangerous drug trafficker to justice. By working together, we are preventing these dangerous narcotics from coming into our communities and removing the violent criminals who profit at the expense of the people we serve. We will continue to be vigilant to keep these harmful narcotics off our streets and our neighborhoods safe,” stated NYSP Superintendent Bruen.
According to the indictment, court filings, and statements made in Court, the defendant supplied metric tons of cocaine to numerous drug trafficking organizations in Colombia, for distribution to locations in the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, and the United States. As part of the investigation, law enforcement authorities seized over 1.9 metric tons of cocaine attributable to Zapata Taborda’s drug trafficking enterprise. The seizures included multi-hundred-kilogram shipments of cocaine sent by the Zapata Taborda drug trafficking organization from Colombia to Jamaica and Costa Rica for ultimate importation to the United States. Among the drug trafficking organizations supplied by the defendant was Clan del Golfo which is one of the most prolific and violent in the world. Colombian law enforcement authorities also seized and destroyed a large-scale cocaine laboratory operated by the Zapata Taborda drug trafficking organization in Antioquia, Colombia.
The extradition of Zapata Taborda is the result of an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the DEA. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply. OCDETF uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant faces up to life in prison.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Francisco J. Navarro and Margaret Schierberl are in charge of the prosecution. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs handled the extradition in this matter.
FABIAN EMILIO ZAPATA TABORDA
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-212 (KAM)