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Colombia Presidential Candidate Assassinated : Extradition Treaty With U.S. Reinstituted in Effort to Combat Drug-Related Killings

August 19, 1989|From Times Wire Services

Friday's attacks came amid a strike by the nation's judges, who are protesting the violence, citing in particular Wednesday night's fatal shooting of Magistrate Carlos Valencia Garcia in Bogata, which occurred hours after he rejected appeals filed on behalf of two Medellin drug kingpins. The striking judges also charge that there is a lack of protection for members of their profession.

A foreign law enforcement official said that traffickers had been "hit very hard" so far this year by the police. More major cocaine labs have been dismantled in police raids this year than were hit in all of 1988.

More important, more than 250 tons of the chemicals used to process cocaine have been seized in Colombia this year--more than triple the amount confiscated in the entire year of 1988. "This has been a major blow," he said.

"This comes at an interesting time when the judicial system is paralyzed," he added.

According to Antioquia's governor, Helena Herran de Montoya, Franklin Quintero had recently surrendered his bodyguards. "He thought it was more important to use this personnel in protecting judges," she said.

The police chief had not mentioned any recent death threats, she said.

On Thursday night, an armed band intercepted a police van carrying 18 people under arrest and set them free. They included several suspected drug traffickers, officials said.

"It's terrifying what is happening in Colombia," said Justice Minister Monica de Grieff.

"The only way to confront this challenge is by fighting together, the government, judges, the armed forces and the citizenry to stop the wave of violence," she said.

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