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Saturday, December 4, 2004
Biggest Extradition Ever…

By Steven Taylor @ 9:45 am

…at least in terms of US-Colombian relations.

Source: El Tiempo

Via the NYT: Colombia Plans to Extradite Drug Kingpin

President Alvaro Uribe signed the final order on Friday to extradite Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, who would be the most prominent cocaine kingpin sent to the United States to face justice.

Prison authorities waited for the final word to transport Mr. Rodriguez Orejuela, the 65-year-old former leader of the powerful Cali cocaine cartel, to the airport, where he was to be put on a plane belonging to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and flown to Miami.

In many ways, this is old news: the Cali Cartel was broken up in 1995 under the administration of Ernesto Samper (that was two presidents ago). However, wherein Samper’s visa to the US was revoked after it was demonstrated that his campaign had taken money from the Cali Cartel (lot of good that did them), Uribe and the US get along splendidly. (Of course, Samper took the Barry Bonds defense).

Nevertheless, the extradition of a major figure such as Rodriguez Orjuela is a major symbolic action by the Uribe government, as it sends a signal to others of his ilk (and to guerrilla and paramilitary leaders) that they, too, could be sent north.

And the NYT is quite correct here:

The impending extradition underscores the close cooperation in the fight against drugs between the Bush administration and President Uribe, who has extradited more suspected traffickers to the United States than any other Colombian leader.

Uribe’s ability to do this also underscores his political popularity in Colombia. It is not popular in all sectors of Colombia to extradite these folks, as it is seen as a blow to Colombian sovereignty (which it is) and a critique of the Colombia criminal justice system, (which it is). Think of it this way: if the US had to send all of its most notorious criminals to another country so that they would get “proper justice” methinks it would generate some resentment here in the US-especially if most of the actual crimes committed by the person in question took place on US soil and where the criminal in question was an American citizen.

Indeed, the tension over extradition was once so great that it spawned substantial urban violence in Colombia perpetrated by the drug kingpins who didn’t want to be sent to the US. This, combined with the resentments noted above, led to a period of time when it was unconstitutional to extradite Colombians.

Filed under: Global Politics: Latin America: War on Drugs

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  1. And extradition comes with a free bottle of water.

    Comment by John Lemon — Saturday, December 4, 2004 @ 7:37 pm

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