Colombian police captain Juan Pablo Mosquera, who oversaw a unit that worked closely with U.S. anti-narcotics agents, has pleaded guilty to charges that he sought to betray the Drug Enforcement Administration to the same traffickers they were jointly fighting.
Mosquera changed his plea in Miami federal court Wednesday just as he was set to go on trial on two counts of obstructing justice. Mosquera’s 2018 arrest and subsequent extradition to the U.S. was another overseas embarrassment for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which has grappled for years with corrupt cops and deadly leaks by foreign law enforcement units it trains and supports. He was assigned to a vetted unit overseen by the DEA’s “Sensitive Investigative Unit,” or SIU, the gold standard for its partnerships abroad.
Mosquera was accused of trying to sell information about what he thought was an impending narcotics indictment against an American who had ditched probation decades earlier. According to a three-page proffer accompanying Mosquera’s plea, a relative of the 37-year-old police officer put him in contact with Juan Carlos Dávila-Bonilla, a Colombian who was previously twice convicted of distributing cocaine in Germany and Italy.
Prior to his arrest, Mosquera had steadily risen through the ranks of Colombia’s national police, earning praise from his superiors along the way to becoming the head of a squad in Cali that worked hand in glove with U.S. law enforcement. The DEA’s program of vetted units was set up to help conduct investigations in foreign countries where drugs are sourced but where U.S. agents are guests and face more restrictions. They have carried out some of the world’s biggest busts and arrested hundreds of capos. Since its start in the late 1990s, the program has expanded to more than 20 countries, including Thailand and Kenya (Newsbreak).