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U.S. 'Shocked' Accused Drug Kingpin Is Free

December 31, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Reagan Administration expressed shock and disgust today over a Colombian judge's decision to free a reputed drug smuggling chieftain who is wanted in the United States.

Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III said the release of Jorge Luis Ochoa from a Bogota prison Wednesday night was "a shocking blow to international law enforcement."

In an unusually blunt statement, State Department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said the Colombian government had failed in its responsibility to ensure that the "dangerous criminal" Ochoa was not set free.

Ochoa and other reputed leaders of the so-called Medellin Cartel were indicted in the United States in November, 1986, on charges of running the world's largest cocaine trafficking organization.

Oakley said Colombian officials had assured Washington that Ochoa, 38, would not be released.

Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead summoned Colombian Ambassador Victor Mosquera today to express the U.S. government's "shock and distress," Oakley said.

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