HomeNewsBriefColombian Carpenter Nearly Extradited to U.S. By Mistake
BRIEF

Colombian Carpenter Nearly Extradited to U.S. By Mistake

COLOMBIA / 12 SEP 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

A carpenter in Colombia has been released from prison after being wrongly accused of running a money laundering operation, a case that highlights issues in the way the United States and Colombia handle extradition cases that create the potential for error.

Ariel Josue Martinez Rodriguez, a humble carpenter from the province of Caqueta, was released from prison on September 11 after the US Department of Justice rescinded its extradition request, reported El Espectador.

Martinez had been arrested on March 18 after a US court accused him of running a money laundering operation for drug traffickers. According to Semana magazine, he only narrowly avoided being extradited – the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had already sent a plane to pick him up before US authorities recognized the mistake.

In an interview with El Pais, Martinez stated that he thought law enforcement officials were joking when they told him he was wanted by US authorities. Although he was accused of laundering $800,000 through a sophisticated electronic system, Martinez claimed he did not even know how to turn on a computer.

The reversal of the extradition request came after Colombian authorities asked the US Department of Justice to review Martinez's case. In total, Martinez spent almost six months in jail.

InSight Crime Analysis

Martinez's case highlights the dynamics in extradition proceedings that leave room for mistakes and lead to the perpetration of injustices. In the United States, the DEA is under considerable pressure to produce results in order to obtain congressional funding, and one of the ways these results are measured is through the number of extraditions. This dynamic creates an incentive for the DEA to extradite as many individuals as possible, which facilitates wrongful accusations, cases of mistaken identity, and the extradition of minor players in the drug trade.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Extradition

On the Colombian side, authorities are responsible for verifying that the requirements for extradition are met in a given case. There is also considerable pressure on Colombian authorities to facilitate extraditions, however, since the United States is a major trading partner and security ally.  

Martinez's case is not an isolated incident. There have been several other cases of wrongful accusations and mistaken identities in Colombia that have led to the extradition of innocent individuals. These include the cases of two banana vendors accused of participating in money laundering operations, and that of a small farmer who was mistakenly identified as a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) commander. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 7 SEP 2016

Óscar Mauricio Pachón, alias “Puntilla,” is a drug trafficker who controlled a criminal network descended from paramilitaries in Colombia’s strategic…

COLOMBIA / 8 MAR 2011

Following the discovery in February of Colombia’s first fully submersible “narco-submarine,” built by drug cartels to ship cocaine…

COCA / 3 DEC 2019

Murders have spiked in a northern Colombia town that borders Venezuela, is home to armed groups, and has an abundance…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.