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U.S. Offering $2-Million Reward for Fugitive Drug Lord Escobar

August 15, 1992|STANLEY MEISLER and MELISSA HEALY | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

WASHINGTON — The State Department posted a $2-million reward Friday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Pablo Escobar, the fugitive Colombian drug lord wanted in the United States to face trial for drug trafficking and terrorism.

The reward, announced under a 1985 federal law authorizing rewards in drug and terrorism cases, came a day after a U.S. grand jury indicted Escobar and an associate on charges that they plotted to blow up an Avianca Airlines flight over Colombia in 1989, killing 110 people, including two Americans.

The 42-year-old Escobar, who has been described by Drug Enforcement Administration Chief Robert C. Bonner as "the most bloodthirsty narco-terrorist in history," embarrassed the Colombian government three weeks ago by escaping from a prison with nine of his confederates.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the American reward, combined with an offer by the Colombian government earlier in the day, raised the total rewards for information about Escobar to $3.4 million.

Since the wrath of Escobar is widely feared in Colombia, Boucher said that any Colombian who came forward with information used in a trial would be allowed to move with his or her family to the United States and live in secrecy under the Department of Justice's witness protection program.

In the latest indictment, voted by a grand jury in Brooklyn, N.Y., Escobar and Dandeny Munoz-Mosquera were charged with 14 counts of cocaine trafficking and terrorism. If convicted of placing a bomb aboard the plane, they face the death penalty. According to U.S. officials, Escobar wanted the plane destroyed because a passenger was suspected of informing the police about him.

Boucher said Americans with any information about Escobar should contact their nearest DEA office.

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