NEW YORK – Colombian Daniel Rendón Herrera, known as “Don Mario”, former head of the Clan del Golfo and one of the most powerful drug traffickers in his country, was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a New York judge, local media reported.
Rendon Herrera pleaded guilty in November 2021 to directing ongoing criminal activity and conspiring to support a foreign terrorist organization, admitting to trafficking at least 73,645 kilograms of cocaine.
The sentence was read by Judge Dora Irizarry in the federal court for the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn.
Rendón Herrera was a leader of the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), which the US government declared a terrorist group in September 2001.
The drug trafficker faced a minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison. Rendón Herrera also faced charges in the federal court for the Southern District, in Manhattan, related to his link with the AUC, but they were transferred to the Brooklyn court for the guilty plea.
The Prosecutor’s Office maintains that Rendón Herrera served as the leader of the AUC since the late 1990s and was the founder and leader of the Los Urabeños Drug Trafficking Organization (also known as Clan Úsuga and Clan del Golfo).
According to the US Government, the AUC, to support their political and terrorist objectives, devised “taxes” on the cocaine trafficked through areas they controlled, and Don Mario employed hitmen who carried out robberies, murders and kidnappings to maintain discipline and control and expand their drug territory.
In 2009, when Rendón Herrera was captured by the Colombian National Police, he commanded 16 “blocs” or territories in Colombia and thousands of armed paramilitaries, according to the prosecution’s accusation.
Rendón Herrera also faces several sentences in his country for convictions related to numerous homicides, arms and drug trafficking, which remain pending until he is released from prison in the US.