Zeta commander “Taliban” facing trial in the U.S.
LAREDO, TX — Ivan Velasquez-Caballero, aka “Taliban” and “50” has been extradited to the U.S. and made his initial appearance this morning in federal court in Laredo, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. He is set for an arraignment and detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker at 10:00 a.m. on Dec. 3, 2013.
Velasquez-Caballero, 43, of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, has been in custody in Mexico since Sept. 26, 2012, when he was arrested in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. He was extradited under the treaty between the United States and Mexico and arrived in Laredo on Nov. 21, 2013.
The charges against him stem from a Feb. 17, 2010, superseding indictment charging the defendant and 33 others with 47 counts alleging drug conspiracy, kidnapping conspiracy, firearms conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to kidnap and murder U.S. citizens in a foreign country, use of juveniles to commit a violent crime, accessory after the fact, solicitation, as well as substantive money laundering, drug trafficking and interstate travel in aid of racketeering charges.
Specifically, Velasquez-Caballero is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. If convicted, he faces a maximum of life imprisonment and a $4 million fine for the drug conspiracy as well as a $250,000 fine and up to 20 years for the money laundering conspiracy.
Of those originally charged in relation to the case, 15 have been convicted and sentenced with two receiving life sentences. In addition, four others have also been convicted in separate indictments resulting from the same investigation.
The indictment was a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation dubbed Operation Prophecy conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Laredo Police Department with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Texas Department of Public Safety, U.S. Marshals Service, Webb County District Attorney's Office and Webb County Sheriff’s Office. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance with the extradition.