Special Presentation: Houston DEA Special Agent in Charge Javier Pena

Javier Pena, Special Agent in Charge, Houston Division, DEA.

Wed Nov 6, 2013
12:00 p.m
Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom

As a Special Agent in Austin, Javier Peña volunteered for an assignment to track down Pablo Escobar, an infamous Columbian drug lord who led the Medellin Cartel during their reign of drug trafficking, terrorism and murder. Now Peña leads the Houston office of the Drug Enforcement Administration in the War on Drugs in the South and East Texas regions.

A wanted poster in Spanish for Pablo Escobar
A wanted poster for Pablo Escobar
From 1988 to 1994, Peña was assigned to Bogota, Columbia and served as the main liaison between the DEA and the Anti-Narcotics Police in Medellin. His main target was Escobar, one of the richest and most notorious criminals in history, who lead the Medellin Cartel in the 1980s. As the country’s king of cocaine, Escobar smuggled tons of drugs into the U.S. using kidnapping, bombings and assassination in his operation. His victims are believed to include hundreds of police officers, dozens of judges and prosecutors and even Columbian Presidential Candidate Luis Carlos Galan.

Drug found in a duffle bag.

When Columbia began extraditing some of Escobar’s associates, the country asked the U.S. for assistance with training and intelligence. Peña was the DEA’s liaison to a hand-picked national police squad called the "Search Bloc."

Fearing extradition to the U.S., Escobar surrendered to Columbian authorities and was sent to luxurious prison the kingpin himself had designed. He escaped after a vigilante group began murdering his associates. After being in hiding for 16 months, he was tracked down and killed by Columbian Police in 1993.

A DEA drug seizure.Following the infamous case, Peña was promoted to Group Supervisor in the DEA’s San Juan, Puerto Rico office, where he was involved in investigations targeting local drug organizations. He was transferred to the Special Operations Division in 1997, where his duties included oversight and coordination of sensitive multi-jurisdictional investigations.

In 1999, Peña returned to Colombia as the Assistant Country Attaché of the DEA’s Bogota Office, where he was responsible for the day-to-day management of all criminal investigations conducted by the DEA in Colombia. In 2001, Peña was selected as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the San Antonio District Office, where he oversaw DEA operations in San Antonio, Austin and Waco.

Proceeds from a major drug bust.Peña also has served as the Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Division for all DEA operations in Northern California and later for the Caribbean Division. He became head of the Houston Division in 2011, which includes South and East Texas, incorporating 645 miles of the border with Mexico and 350 miles of coastline on the Gulf of Mexico.

Peña began his career with the Webb County Sheriff’s Officer near Laredo in 1977 as a Deputy Sheriff and became a DEA agent in 1984, beginning in the Austin Office.

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