US soldiers drugged and robbed by Colombian crime ring led by man nicknamed ‘Harry Potter’
Two US soldiers were drugged, kidnapped and robbed at a bar in Colombia by a gang with a ringleader who called himself “Harry Potter”, according to the Justice Department.
Jeffersson Arango Castellanos has now been extradited to the US and made his first appearance in a Miami court on Monday charged with conspiracy, kidnapping and assault targeting internationally protected persons, according to authorities.
He and two other alleged conspirators face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.
Prosecutors say the kidnapping took place after the two servicemen went to watch a US Women’s National Team soccer game at a sports bar in Bogota on 5 March 2020.
Both of the men vanished and failed to report for work the following day, according to the criminal complaint.
Investigators say the victims had their phones, wallets and other valuables stolen and when they were found were covered in bruises.
Neither of the men could remember what had happened to them and tests revealed they had both been drugged with tranquilizers before the incident. Their bank cards were later used at a string of stores and at least one ATM.
Mr Arango Castellanos was arrested by Colombian officials on 30 December 2020 for unrelated robberies, which followed a similar pattern.
While in custody he spoke to the FBI and allegedly confessed to drugging both soldiers and stealing their belongings, reported Fox News.
Prosecutors say that while the victims were distracted by the suspect’s female accomplices he allegedly spiked their drinks with the tranquilizer.
He got one of the victims to hand over his PIN number by getting them to enter it on a cellphone to process a payment, court papers state.
Mr Arango Castellanos will be arraigned in court on 11 May.