A Colombian matriarch was indicted Thursday on cocaine charges, and if convicted she would be the first woman to face life in prison without parole under the federal drug "kingpin" statute, prosecutors said.
A federal grand jury handed up a superseding indictment accusing Eucaris Ceballos, 54, with being the "principal administrator" of a continuing criminal enterprise, making her liable for the life sentence.Ceballos has been held without bail at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York since she was arrested in November.
Federal prosecutors charge that Ceballos headed a drug ring that moved hundreds of kilograms of cocaine a week. In tape-recorded conversations, her subordinates allegedly referred to her as "Dona Tulia."
"We have a cooperator on board, and he says he delivered to her 160 kilograms a week," a Drug Enforcement Administration agent involved with the case said.
Ceballos, who maintained homes in Hollywood, Fla., and Queens in New York City, and 13 of her alleged subordinates were charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine throughout the New York area.
Three people arrested with Ceballos in November have pleaded guilty, New Jersey Deputy Attorney General Charles Grinnell said. Grinnell has been designated as a special assistant U.S. attorney for the prosecution.
One defendant, Nelson Barbosa, who faces up to 10 years in prison, has agreed to testify, Grinnell said. His sentencing has been postponed until after the trial.