A Colombian man extradited to the United States for trial has plead guilty for the kidnapping and murder of Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent James Terry Watson.
Watson, who had been on assignment in Colombia for about a year and a half, had been watching the NBA finals in a Bogota bar while off-duty on June 30, 2013. He got into what he thought was a cab after leaving the bar, only to be ambushed by several men, who jumped in at a stop light, shocked him with a stun gun, and stabbed him. Watson fought back and escaped, but soon died from the stab wounds. The attack was part of an attempted robbery.
One of the suspects, 31-year-old Julio Estiven Gracia Ramirez, plead guilty to “aiding and abetting the murder of an internationally protected person and conspiracy to kidnap an internationally protected person,” according to a Wednesday release from the Justice Department. He will be sentenced in December.
“Gracia Ramirez admitted that he and his conspirators agreed to conduct a ‘paseo milionario’ or ‘millionaire’s ride’ in which victims who were perceived as wealthy were lured into taxi cabs, kidnapped and then robbed,” the statement explains. Six other defendants have been charged, and are scheduled to face trial — in the U.S. — in January 2015.
“Special Agent Watson gave his life in the service of his country, and we will do everything in our power to honor his sacrifice,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Our nation will never yield in the protection and defense of its citizens. And we will continue to demonstrate that anyone who seeks to harm an American will be found, will be prosecuted, and will be brought to justice.”
Watson was 43 when he was murdered, leaving behind his wife, Linda, and his parents, Paul and Henrietta. He had served the DEA for 13 years, serving in Colombia, Afghanistan, and Puerto Rico.
Colombia’s illegal drug industry is one of the largest in the world, valued at $10 billion in 2011.