Adam S. Fels
Adam S. Fels is a founding partner of Fridman Fels & Soto, PLLC. His practice focuses on international money laundering cases, white-collar criminal defense, and complex internal investigations.
Before forming Fridman Fels & Soto, PLLC, Mr. Fels served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Florida for thirteen years, specializing in international money laundering, counternarcotics, and counterterrorism prosecutions. He also served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in both the Southern District of New York and the Eastern District of New York. Mr. Fels was one of the lead prosecutors and delivered the opening statement in the Government’s successful prosecution of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, one of the largest drug kingpins ever tried in the United States. The members of the prosecution team, including Mr. Fels, were honored with the 2019 U.S. Department of Justice Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, the Department’s highest award for employee performance.
Throughout his thirteen-year career as a federal prosecutor, Mr. Fels successfully managed and directed a wide array of criminal investigations and cases in district court, and successfully argued several cases in federal courts of appeal. Mr. Fels also handled some of the Miami U.S. Attorney’s Office’s highest profile cases, including a variety of counterterrorism prosecutions, and the prosecution of some of the most prominent Colombian drug cartel leaders of the time. He has developed expertise in several areas of federal criminal practice, including Title III wiretaps, classified information litigation, money laundering and other financial investigations, mortgage fraud, and customs enforcement. He was cleared for top secret information and granted access to sensitive compartmented information.
Mr. Fels has lectured extensively to various audiences, including domestic and foreign law enforcement personnel and university students. His seminars and guest lectures have addressed international criminal procedure, money laundering, terrorist financing, and psychology of the courtroom. He has participated on state-sponsored money laundering panels on three continents.
Prior to his tenure as a federal prosecutor in Miami, Mr. Fels served as a Senior Trial Attorney with the Department of Justice’s Office of Special Investigations in Washington, DC, where he worked to denaturalize and deport several World War II concentration camp guards who had unlawfully entered the United States after the war. For his role in bringing Nazi camp guards to justice, Mr. Fels was recognized alongside other OSI attorneys with the first U.S. Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Award for Human Rights Law Enforcement.
Before joining the Department of Justice, Mr. Fels spent four years as a commercial litigation and appellate associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins LLP, participating in several trials and developing expertise in internal investigations. Mr. Fels began his legal career by clerking for United States District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks in the Southern District of Florida.
News Reports and Media Accounts
- “DBR Recognizes Most Effective Lawyers for 2019,” Daily Business Review, November 15, 2019, available at https://www.law.com/dailybusinessreview/2019/11/15/dbr-recognizes-most-effective-lawyers-for-2019/?slreturn=20191015145223
- “Opinion: Will El Chapo’s Trial Change Organized Crime Forever?” The New York Times, February 14, 2019, available at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/opinion/el-chapo-trial-witnesses.html
- “Notorious Drug Lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Convicted,” CBS Miami, February 12, 2019, available at https://miami.cbslocal.com/2019/02/12/notorious-drug-lord-joaquin-el-chapo-guzman-convicted/
- “Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s trial: From shocking to bizarre,” BBC.com, February 4, 2019, available at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46282173
- “’El Chapo’ trial jurors heard the accused Mexican drug lord’s voice — or did they?” USA Today, December 19, 2018, available at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/12/19/did-el-chapo-drug-trial-jurors-hear-accused-mexican-drug-lord-voice-secret-tape/2360588002/
- “El Chapo Trial Updates,” Newsweek, December 13, 2018, available at “https://www.newsweek.com/joaquin-el-chapo-guzman-loera-sinaloa-cartel-brooklyn-jorge-milton-cifuentes-1258241
- “Las leyendas de El Chapo, a juicio,” El Pais, November 18, 2018, available at https://elpais.com/internacional/2018/11/16/actualidad/1542382504_906964.html
- “Main witness against ‘El Chapo’ will be ‘El Chapo,’ prosecutor says,” NBC News, November 14, 2018, available at https://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/el-chapo-opening-arguments-delayed-because-anxious-juror-n935761
- “As El Chapo trial opens, attorneys offer contrasting portraits of ‘mythological’ drug lord,” Washington Post, November 13, 2018, available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/el-chapo-trial-begins-drug-kingpin-faces-life-in-prison/2018/11/12/52846f2a-e466-11e8-b759-3d88a5ce9e19_story.html
- “Miami judge orders ex-Panamanian president sent home to face criminal charges,” Miami Herald, August 31, 2017, available at ”https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/article170521432.html
- “Man Who Made Bomb Threats to Palm Beach County Schools Sentenced to More Than 3 Years In Prison,” Sun-Sentinel, November 26, 2016, available at https://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-palm-hoax-bomb-threat-sentencing-20161129-story.html
- “Man touted as one of biggest drug dealers ever gets 35 years,” AP News, July 25, 2016, available at https://apnews.com/b67b14c742334f0cb07a35513cf92162
- “South Florida brothers sentenced to long prison terms for terrorist plot in New York,” Miami Herald, June 10, 2015, available at https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article23669335.html
- “Los detalles de la detención en Aruba del general venezolano Hugo Carvajal,” Infobae, July 25, 2014, available at https://www.infobae.com/2014/07/25/1583091-los-detalles-la-detencion-aruba-del-general-venezolano-hugo-carvajal/
- “Individual Who Provided False Statements Regarding Attempted Support Of Extremist Group Pleads Guilty And Is Sentenced,” U.S. Dept. of Justice, July 24, 2014, available at https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl/pr/individual-who-provided-false-statements-regarding-attempted-support-extremist-group
- “United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Announces Guilty Plea of Colombian Narcotics Kingpin,” FBI, January 24, 2014, available at https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/miami/press-releases/2014/united-states-attorney-for-the-southern-district-of-florida-announces-guilty-plea-of-colombian-narcotics-kingpin
- “Manhattan, Brooklyn, And Miami U.S. Attorneys Announce Extradition Of Colombian Narcotics Kingpin,” U.S. Dept. of Justice, July 9, 2013, available at https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/manhattan-brooklyn-and-miami-us-attorneys-announce-extradition-colombian-narcotics
- “Miami Jury Convicts Guatemalan Drug Kingpin of Distributing Cocaine Knowing it Would be Imported into the United States,” U.S. Dept. of Justice, May 8, 2012, available at https://www.justice.gov/archive/usao/fls/PressReleases/2012/120508-01.html
- “High-Level Colombian BACRIM Narco-Trafficker Indicted on Cocaine Conspiracy Charges,” FBI, February 9, 2011, available at https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/miami/press-releases/2011/mm020911a.htm
- “OSI’s Prosecution of World War II Persecutor Cases,” United States Attorneys Bulletin, January 2006
Awards and Recognition
- Recipient of Attorney General’s David Margolis Award for Exceptional Service, 2019
- “Most Effective Lawyer” for Criminal Law, Daily Business Review, 2019
- Recipient of Federal Law Enforcement Foundation Award, 2019
- Recipient of Timothy Evans Award for Outstanding Assistant United States Attorney, 2012
- Recipient of Assistant Attorney General Award for Human Rights Law Enforcement, 2008