A Colombian Police officer escorts Hector Leonardo Lopez, one of six men charged with the killing of U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent James Terry Watson -- who was stabbed to death during a robbery -- during the presentation to the press at the headquarters of the National Police in Bogota, on June 26, 2013.
(Photo: Guillermo Legaria, AFP/Getty Images)
Donna Leinwand Leger, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON - Six Colombians were charged Thursday with kidnapping and killing a Drug Enforcement Administration agent on assignment in Colombia.
Special Agent James Terry Watson, 42, assigned to the U.S. Mission in Colombia, was stabbed to death June 20 after he got into a cab in Bogota.
The indictment by a grand jury in Virginia accuses the six Colombians of operating a criminal ring, known as a "millionaire's ride," that used taxis to lure wealthy victims, whom they would kidnap and rob. Once the cab driver found a fare, he would allegedly signal the other men, who would drive up in a second taxi, to begin the attack and rob the victim of credit and bank cards. A man in a third cab allegedly drove from bank to bank, trying to withdraw as much cash as possible.
After Watson entered the cab, one man allegedly hit Watson with a stun gun while the other man stabbed him with a knife, the indictment says. Watson escaped his captors, but eventually collapsed and bled to death.
Watson, a DEA special agent since June 2000, had been assigned to the DEA's Cartagena office since July 2010. He had previously worked as a sheriff's deputy in Richland Parish, La., and a deputy U.S. Marshall in Mississippi.
Attorney General Eric Holder called Watson "a brave public servant who dedicated his life to protecting the country he loved."
The arrests "send an unmistakable message to all who commit acts of violence against America's law enforcement professionals: no matter who you are or where you live, we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law," Holder said.
The indictment charges Gerardo Figueroa Sepulveda, 38; Omar Fabian Valdes Gualtero, 27; Edgar Javier Bello Murillo, 26; Hector Leonardo Lopez, 23; Julio Estiven Gracia Ramierez, 30; and Andrés Alvaro Oviedo-Garcia, 21, with two counts of second-degree murder, one count of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to kidnap. The indictment also carged Oviedo-Garcia with two counts of assault.
The men were arrested June 25 in Bogota.