He kidnapped two American soldiers in a bar in Bogota. Now he faces life in prison in Miami

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Jefferson Arango Castellanos, who is accused of kidnapping and robbing two American soldiers after drugging them in a bar in Bogotá – and whose nickname is “Harry Potter” – was unable to cast a vote. Expecto patronum Spell and ward off prosecutors in Miami federal court.

Arango, a Colombian national, pleaded guilty on Friday to kidnapping and assaulting two US Army soldiers who were on temporary duty in Bogota in March 2020.

Read more: Feds say two US soldiers were drugged in Colombian bar. Now, the suspect is in custody in Miami

Arango, 36, who pleaded guilty to the four counts in the indictment, including conspiracy to kidnap an internationally protected person, faced enormous odds to overcome the prosecution team.

according to Realistic show Filed in court Friday and signed by Arango and his attorney, Mayne Dunker, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertila Fernandez, and trial attorney Clayton O’Connor, the statement reflects what prosecutors would have been able to prove had the case gone to trial. trial.

It was Arango He was extradited to the United States in May 2023. His co-conspirators – his accomplice, Kenny Julith Uribe Chiran, and the smuggler driver, Pedro Jose Silva Ochoa – remain at large.

What the plaintiffs learned

According to court documents, the unnamed soldiers were at the Colombian Bar, a sports bar in the upscale Zona T area, at around 11pm on March 5, 2020, at the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Silva, who was driving a green Renault 9, dropped Arango and Uribe off at the Colombian bar, drove off and waited.

At the bar, the couple found their targets – American soldiers.

According to the Colombian National Police, surveillance cameras showed Arango and Uribe approaching the two soldiers several times at the Colombian bar.

“At some point, [Arango] “He approached the victims at the bar and, without their knowledge, incapacitated, intoxicated and rendered them unable to defend themselves by putting drugs in their drinks,” the courtroom said. In a statement to law enforcement, Arango explained that he “used drugs in paste or liquid form to put in his victims’ drinks.”

Toxicology tests found that both soldiers had benzodiazepines in their system.

Identify drugs

Benzodiazepines They are depressants that produce sedation and hypnosis, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, and reduce seizures, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Benzodiazepines slow the central nervous system and may cause drowsiness and a relaxed mood, but if overdosed they can cause extreme drowsiness, confusion, poor coordination, decreased reflexes, respiratory depression, coma and possible death, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“The victims recounted that they bought a couple of beers, listened to music, and danced alone,” according to an FBI affidavit. One of the victims remembers that he saw two women taking selfies, and that he offered to take pictures of them. He remembers asking if he could put beer on their table for pictures. Neither victim was able to remember what happened after this encounter.

Long car trip

At about 2:30 a.m. on March 6, the soldiers and the couple left the Columbian bar together. The text of the court presentation stated that the drugged soldiers stumbled and had difficulty maintaining their balance. Uribe put her arm around one of the soldiers’ waist and put his arm on her shoulder. Arango and Uribe directed their victims to a waiting Renault 9 for Silva and drove off with the soldiers inside the car.

There, according to prosecutors, the trio seized the soldier’s wallets, debit and credit cards, and cell phones. Uribe “continued to manipulate” one of the soldiers into revealing the PIN code for his debit card.

Over the next few hours, the trio drove the drunken soldiers around Bogotá and used the stolen credit and ATM cards at several locations where they extracted cash — $350 from two transactions and another $250 from two other transactions worth about $125 each. The credit card was used later that morning at a meat shop and tire shop.

At approximately 6:45 a.m., the trio dropped off one of the victims on the street marked Calle 25. Video footage shows the soldier stumbling and falling in the street while Uribe picks him up from the street and leads him to the sidewalk where he was left. A passerby saw the victim staggering and called the police, who took the soldier to the hospital, where he was treated and then released. He eventually returned to his apartment where he was greeted by US Embassy staff, according to the show.

The second soldier was also dropped off in the same neighborhood and was found by a taxi driver who helped him reach his apartment, as video footage showed him stumbling on the way to his apartment.

Counts

Arango pleaded guilty to kidnapping an internationally protected person, conspiracy to kidnap an internationally protected person, assaulting an internationally protected person, and conspiracy to assault an internationally protected person.

what happened after that

Arango, who presented himself as the fictional boy wizard Harry Potter made famous in JK Rowling’s series and subsequent films, faces a life sentence. A federal district court judge is scheduled to issue his sentence at a date that has not yet been announced.

Miami Herald staff writer Jay Weaver contributed to this story.

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