Fabio Ochoa-Vasquez, the Colombian identified by United States law enforcement authorities as former leader of the Medellin cocaine cartel, faces trial beginning today in Miami.
Ochoa has an all-star defense team, led by Miami attorney Roy Black.
Ochoa is the biggest Colombian drug lord to face American justice since the two nations reestablished extradition in 1997. He faces life in prison for his alleged role in Operation Millennium, a U.S.-Colombian assault on the new generation of cocaine barons who emerged in the late 1990s to take the place of the infamous Medellin and Cali cartels.
Security for the trial will be tight. U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore is keeping jurors’ identities secret from prosecutors and defense attorneys, a highly unusual tactic.
Ochoa was clearly the prize catch for Drug Enforcement Administration agents and federal prosecutors. They have been pursuing Fabio Ochoa and his older brothers, Jorge Luis and Juan David, since the late 1970s.