TOP COLOMBIAN DRUG KINGPIN EXTRADITED TO U.S.

12 Jul 2013 11:19

BOGOTA, July 10 (BERNAMA-NNN-XINHUA) -- Colombian authorities extradited Tuesday prominent Colombian drug trafficker Daniel "El Loco" Barrera to the United States, where he has summons from two New York courts and a third in Florida on drug trafficking charges, official sources confirmed.

U.S. authorities were offering a 5 million-dollar reward for the capture of Barrera, considered by Colombia's police as the last of the "great Colombian kingpins".

Barrera was arrested 10 months ago in Venezuela as part of an international operation that involved authorities from Colombia, the U.S., UK and Venezuela, and was led from Washington by Colombia's National Police chief, Gen. Jose Roberto Leon.

Barrera, whose criminal career allegedly spanned more than 20 years and who led one of the world's most dangerous criminal organisations, was captured by Venezuelan anti-narcotics officers as he was making a call in a phone booth in the Venezuelan city of San Cristobal.

During the extradition announcement, Gen. Leon said following the arrest, authorities investigated Barrera's assets, some of which were registered in the name of his frontmen, and seized more than 450 billion Colombian pesos (US$243 million) in property and belongings.

The operation marked the 36th undertaken in coordination with police forces from other countries, said Leon, adding the collaborations have led to the arrest of organised crime figures who flee abroad to evade capture.

"It's best if they surrender to the Colombian authorities, because sooner or later the Colombian police will arrive with all their capacity to capture and neutralise them, whether they are in Colombian or foreign territory," he said.

Barrera allegedly shipped drugs from Colombia and Venezuela via several Central American countries to the U.S., although the routes occasionally included Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Panama and Uruguay.

Barrera is also accused of having ties to the south and eastern fronts of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) insurgents, for whom he was reportedly a strategic financial figure. The FARC is suspected of levying a tax on the country's drug trafficking operations as a means to fund its armed leftist movement.

He is also known for his business ties to members of the outlawed paramilitary group, the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC).

In April, Colombia's Supreme Court of Justice consented to the U.S. extradition request with President Juan Manuel Santos signing a decree allowing the transfer days later.

--BERNAMA-NNN-XINHUA

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