Two U.S. soldiers looking for a drink and a bar in which to watch a soccer game in Bogata, Colombia instead ran into a ‘tomaseas’ scam — local slang for adding a drug to someone’s drink in order to rob them. Both soldiers ended up in the hospital when a Colombian couple slipped them a series of drugs over a night of drinking. The soldiers awoke the next day to four missing cell phones, a drained bank account and stolen credit cards.

Now two men behind the scheme are in U.S. custody after Pedro Jose Silva Ochoa, also known as “Tata,” was extradited to Miami late last week from Chile. Jeffersson Arango Castellanos, aka “Harry Potter,” was brought to the U.S. in May 2023 and pleaded guilty to similar charges in January.

A federal indictment of Ochoa and two conspirators did not identify the U.S. soldiers or their work in Bogata except to say they were both men on active duty in the Army and in Colombia on a temporary assignment. Both soldiers recovered but, court documents make clear both were totally incapacitated by the drugs that Ochoa and two others added to their drinks over a night of drinking and partying.

One soldier told investigators that his last memory was early in the evening of March 5, 2020, when the two soldiers took a “selfie” with a woman in the bar, leaving their drinks on a table for the photo. Neither soldier, the indictment says, remembered anything beyond that encounter.

When Colombian police reviewed surveillance video from the bar and nearby streets, they saw that the Americans, Ochoa and a woman, Kenny Julieth Uribe Chiran, drank and partied at the bar until after 2 a.m. With neither American able to stand on their own, Ochoa and the woman led the Americans out of the bar and to a waiting car, driven by Arango.

The Colombians drove the Americans to a hotel, where they robbed them. Both men were also eventually found with bruises and marks on their faces, though the indictment does not specify where they might have been caused. Videos showed both men falling, the indictment said.

Both soldiers were reported missing when they failed to report for work the next morning at 6 a.m. U.S. officials found both men at their apartments that afternoon. One had just returned from a medical clinic after having been found wandering the streets, still obviously intoxicated, by Bogata police that morning. The second soldier told investigators he did not know how he had returned to the apartment.

The scam took four cell phones, both of the men’s wallets, jackets and jewelry. Both men found that their credit cards had been used for purchases and their debit cards drained.

In the indictment, an American investigator who interviewed Ochoa said he had gotten the pin code to the men’s bank accounts because “the effect of the drug made the victims think that he was their best friend and he took advantage of their condition by pretending that the victims had to pay for something, for example, the cost of the hotel.”

He told the soldier he needed to enter his pin code into a “credit card machine” as he handed the soldier his own cell phone. The soldier entered the pin in the phone.

Ochoa, 47, will made his initial court appearance last week in Miami, Florida U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami. He faces charges of kidnapping an internationally protected person, conspiracy to kidnap an internationally protected person, assaulting an internationally protected person, and conspiracy to assault an internationally protected person. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

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