A high-profile drug trafficker with familial ties to Alvaro Uribe has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking in the United States, raising further questions about the criminal connections of Colombia's former president.
Appearing at Florida Southern District Court on September 10, Dolly Cifuentes Villa, alias "La Meno," pleaded guilty to one of the five drug trafficking charges against her, reversing the not guilty plea she made after being extradited last year, reported El Colombiano.
Cifuentes' organization is accused of trafficking up to 30 tons of cocaine into the United States on the behalf of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, as well as overseeing money laundering operations for cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. According to Semana, her business interests spanned the Americas and were worth up to $200 million.
Cifuentes is the mother to two of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's nieces, having been the lover of his late brother Jaime. Uribe has claimed to have had no knowledge of the extra-marital affair, despite the fact the ten year age gap between the children suggests it was a long-term relationship.
Cifuentes' decision to reverse her not guilty plea follows a similar pattern among drug traffickers extradited to the United States and was probably inspired by the offer of a lighter sentence. She may also have offered to provide information on her criminal associates as part of a plea bargain.
The fact that she has accepted the drug trafficking charge and may provide US authorities with information could be troubling for Uribe, who has previously been directly linked to the Medellin Cartel and drug trafficking in US intelligence reports, as well as facing consistent accusations of collusion with the drug trafficking paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).
Should it emerge that Uribe was aware of her relationship with his brother and her illegal activities, it will add to calls for an investigation into his criminal associations, something his family members have already been imprisoned for. However, despite the open accusations of AUC leaders, investigations have time and again stopped short of Uribe's door, and it seems unlikely the Cifuentes case will the one to change this.