Member of International Cocaine Ring Extradited to L.A.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Mexican national charged with coordinating shipments for an international drug trafficking organization that planned to smuggle tens of millions of dollars' worth of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico for eventual sale in the U.S. was extradited from Canada and scheduled to be arraigned today in Los Angeles on federal narcotics charges.

Miguel Hadad Facusseh, 37, also known as “Grenas'' and “Barbas,'' arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening and is expected to make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court Thursday afternoon.

Hadad is one of 15 defendants charged in an indictment that describes an organization that smuggled large quantities of cocaine on aircraft, using clandestine airstrips and corrupt air traffic control officials in Colombia to avoid detection. As one of the key members of the organization, Hadad allegedly was responsible for coordinating operations from Mexico, including financing flights, supplying pilots and setting up clandestine airstrips, according to the indictment that was filed in 2019.

Despite the corrupt air traffic controllers and former law enforcement officials in Colombia who were responsible for ensuring that aircraft coming from Mexico could enter Colombian airspace and retrieve cocaine shipments, the indictment outlines a Nov. 5, 2017 incident in which the Colombian Air Force intercepted a plane coming from Mexico, forced it to land, and then destroyed it with machine gun fire.

Near the site of the plane's wreckage, Colombian law enforcement officers found about 1,135 pounds of packaged cocaine that was ready to be loaded onto the plane, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In addition to Hadad, three other defendants named in the indictment were extradited from Colombia in late 2020 -- Tomas Visbal Blanco, 67; Rafael Enrique Noguera Abello, 45; and Enrique Rafael Noguera Ramirez, 38.

The indictment alleges that these defendants handled logistics for the organization, including managing a stash location for the cocaine, maintaining a clandestine airstrip where the plane from Mexico was to retrieve the cocaine shipment in November 2017, and preparing for the aircraft's refueling upon its arrival.

The three Colombian nationals have pleaded not guilty to the charges in the indictment and are scheduled to go on trial on Oct. 12 in Los Angeles federal court.

Photo: Getty Images

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