Thursday, September 04, 2014

Julio Estiven Gracia Ramirez Pleads Guilty to Kidnapping and Murder of DEA Agent Terry Watson

A Colombian man extradited to the Eastern District of Virginia pleaded guilty for his involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent James Terry Watson in Bogotá, Colombia, on June 20, 2013.

 “Today’s guilty plea is an important step forward in holding those responsible for the murder of DEA Special Agent Terry Watson accountable for their heinous crime,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “DEA will not rest until all of those responsible for this tragedy face justice. Our thoughts and prayers continue for the Watson family, and DEA remains grateful for the dedicated U.S. and Colombian team of investigators and prosecutors.”

“Special Agent Watson gave his life in the service of his country, and we will do everything in our power to honor his sacrifice,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “This conviction is a critical step forward.  But while this action represents the first measure of justice for his kidnapping and murder, it will not be the last.  The Department of Justice will not rest until all those involved in this senseless act of violence have been held to account for their crimes. Our nation will never yield in the protection and defense of its citizens.  And we will continue to demonstrate that anyone who seeks to harm an American will be found, will be prosecuted, and will be brought to justice.”

Julio Estiven Gracia Ramirez, 31, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the Eastern District of Virginia to aiding and abetting the murder of an internationally protected person and conspiracy to kidnap an internationally protected person. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 5, 2014.

In a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Gracia Ramirez admitted that he and his conspirators agreed to conduct a “paseo milionario” or “millionaire’s ride” in which victims who were perceived as wealthy were lured into taxi cabs, kidnapped and then robbed. Gracia Ramirez admitted that he targeted Special Agent Watson and picked him up outside a Bogotá restaurant in his taxi. Soon after, two conspirators entered Gracia Ramirez’s taxi, and one used a stun gun to shock Special Agent Watson and the other stabbed him. Special Agent Watson was able to escape from the taxi, but he later collapsed and died from his injuries.

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