Colombia's last big drug lord extradited to US
The last of the major Colombian drug lords - Daniel "El Loco" Barrera - has been extradited to the United States, where there had been a US$5 million reward for his capture, Colombian police said.
His capture in Venezuela last year marked the end of an era when Colombia was under the sway of powerful and violent drug lords like the Medellin cartel's notorious Pablo Escobar, officials said.
"This is the end of the last big capo of the 1980s," General Jose Roberto Leon, the head of the Colombia police, said as he turned over Barrera to US Drug Enforcement Administration agents at an air base in Bogota on Tuesday.
Barrera, 43, who was deported to Colombia after his capture, was shown to reporters wearing handcuffs and a bullet-proof vest before being put on a plane to New York.
He is wanted by authorities in New York and Florida for allegedly smuggling 900 tonnes of cocaine into the United States and Europe between 1992 and 2012, often in partnership with leftist Farc guerillas.
Colombia is the world's largest producer of cocaine, having made 345 tonnes of the drug in 2011, according to UN estimates.
Leon said Barrera had brought together members of the Farc, criminal bands that grew out of right-wing paramilitary groups and international drug traffickers.
Barrera was captured in 1990,but escaped from prison several months later.
He apparently moved in 2008 to Venezuela. But feeling increasingly cornered, he opened discussions with US authorities about whether he could surrender.
His arrest in the Venezuelan border state of Tachira in September was the product of a multinational operation involving Colombia, Venezuela, the US and Britain.