Colombian drug kingpin who bribed ex-federal agent with prostitutes, cash and drinks sentenced to prison

A Colombian cocaine trafficker who bribed a former U.S. federal agent with cash, drinks and prostitution to avoid arrest was sentenced Friday to 27 months in federal prison, the Department of Justice said.

Jose Bayron Piedrahita-Ceballos, 60, a member of the Cali Cartel, bribed Christopher Ciccione II, 54, in order to have a drug trafficking indictment dismissed and to obtain official authorization to enter the U.S., according to a DOJ press release.

Jose Bayron Piedrahita-Ceballos, second from left, bribed a U.S. federal agent to have an indictment dismissed. 

Jose Bayron Piedrahita-Ceballos, second from left, bribed a U.S. federal agent to have an indictment dismissed.  (National Army of Colombia)

Ciccione, a former special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HIS), was then the case agent for a large-scale operation that resulted in the indictments of over 100 cocaine traffickers from the Medellin-based Cartel.

According to a DOJ press release, Piedrahita-Ceballos and Columbian national Juan Carlos Velasco, 51, gave Ciccione approximately $20,000 in cash, dinner, drinks and prostitution during an extended hotel stay in Bogota in exchange for the dismissal. Velasco reportedly served as an intermediary between Piedrahita-Ceballos and Ciccione. The events took place in late 2010 and early 2011.

As part of his efforts to help Piedrahita-Ceballos, Ciccione misled the U.S. Attorney’s Office, HIS management, and altered records to secure the dismissal. He also falsified the concurrence of other federal agents and attempted to obtain entry for Piedrahita-Ceballos into the U.S., the DOJ said.

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Piedrahita-Ceballos pleaded guilty to bribery in May. His 27-month prison sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release in the Southern District of Florida.

Velasco and Ciccione have already pleaded guilty to their role in the matter. Ciccione was sentenced on Feb. 9, 2018 to 36 months in prison. Velasco was sentenced on Jan. 19, 2018 to 27 months in prison.

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The case was investigated by multiple law enforcement agencies, including ICE, DHS, the FBI, and their counterparts in Columbia.