Colombia sends suspected drug kingpin to United States

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 09, 2013 6:06 PM
Colombia sends suspected drug kingpin to United States

By Bernard Vaughan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Colombia has extradited suspected drug kingpin Daniel Barrera to the United States to face charges of drug trafficking and money laundering, U.S. authorities said on Tuesday.

The Colombian citizen is accused of manufacturing hundreds of tons of cocaine in Colombia and trafficking it worldwide, according to an announcement from U.S. attorneys in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Miami.

Known as "Loco," Barrera "was the kingpin of a stunningly prolific Colombian drug cartel, which flooded the globe with its deadly product," said Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

"His extradition to the United States marks the fall of the last don of an organization marked by its worldwide reach, ruthless criminality, and staggering profits," Lynch added in her statement.

Barrera's lawyer could not be reached for comment.

Barrera is accused of buying raw cocaine paste from the leftist rebel group FARC and processing it in laboratories in areas controlled by the now-demobilized paramilitary group the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known as AUC, according to a statement from Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Barrera's organization produced more than 400 tons of cocaine annually, according to Bharara, who said Barrera "operated at the center of a truly evil web."

Barrera arrived in New York Tuesday afternoon from his home country, and will make his first court appearance on Wednesday, according to the announcement.

He was arrested in Venezuela in September 2012 with the help of authorities there as well as British and U.S. intelligence agencies, Reuters previously reported.

His arrest came as Colombian authorities were closing in on his organization, having arrested 36 members of his gang and seizing five tons of cocaine in the weeks before his arrest.

(Reporting by Bernard Vaughan; Editing by Doina Chiacu)