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The Nation

November 18, 1987

The government's case against alleged cocaine kingpin Carlos Lehder is only "a masquerade of horrors" designed to convict him of drug-smuggling at any cost, the defense said in opening arguments in Jacksonville, Fla. Defense attorney Edward R. Shohat accused the government of pulling out all stops in its effort to paint Lehder as a top figure in the Colombia-based Medellin Cartel, which is responsible for up to 80% of U.S. cocaine imports. Lehder, 38, is charged with importing 3.3 tons of cocaine into the United States through the Bahamas. U.S. Atty. Robert Merkle painted a portrait of Lehder as a man who used bribes, violence, intellect and charm in a scheme to form his own island nation and become the "king of cocaine transportation."

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