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This Staggering Argument In Court Did No Good For One Of Colombia’s Biggest Narcos

REUTERS/John Vizcaino

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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A lawyer representing a top Colombian cocaine trafficker claimed Monday his client grew up dirt poor, so that’s why he made millions from drug smuggling.

Judge Gregory H. Woods of Federal District Court in Manhattan sentenced Daniel Barrera to 35 years behind bars and fined him $10 million for international drug trafficking. Woods told the court, “Simply put, the scope of the offenses here is staggering,” and that ultimately, “It’s hard to exaggerate the quantity of narcotics for which he was responsible,” according to The New York Times.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, pushed for the 35-year sentence since Colombian authorities had been assured that neither life in prison nor the death penalty would be sought against Barrera.

Ruben Oliva, Barrera’s attorney, claimed that the Colombian criminal grew up in an, “an area of Colombia where the only real source of means of support was to engage in the production of coca.” After Oliva excused his client’s sordid criminal deeds on his upbringing, the lawyer subsequently contradicted himself by saying, “It’s not an excuse, it’s just a reality in that area.”

The case against Barrera has been long in the making, dating back to his July, 2013 extradition from Colombia to the U.S. and his indictment for various drug trafficking-related offenses. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was overseeing the case on behalf of the Department of Justice back when Barrera was brought to the U.S. to face trial, she was then the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Barrera, 48, pleaded guilty in November, 2014. The Colombian cocaine distributor is reported to have produced and moved “over 720 tons of cocaine,” over the years.

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