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Alleged cartel boss extradited

July 20, 2007|From the Associated Press

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA — Reputed drug kingpin Luis Hernando Gomez Bustamante was extradited to the United States on Thursday to face drug trafficking and money laundering charges.

Gomez is alleged to be a top boss of the Norte del Valle cartel, which is believed to account for as much as 60% of the cocaine consumed in the United States. He had been deported to Colombia on Feb. 8 after fleeing to Cuba in 2004 after the U.S. placed a $5-million bounty on his head.

In an interview broadcast just before his extradition, Gomez told RCN TV that at the peak he smuggled planeloads of cocaine containing as much as 11 tons a night to the United States. Much of the cocaine was supplied by Salvatore Mancuso, the now-jailed leader of the umbrella organization for Colombia's powerful right-wing militias, he said.

Gomez had pleaded for a speedy extradition, saying he received numerous death threats in jail from rival traffickers who feared he would testify against them.

During the interview with RCN, he cried while promising to cooperate fully with U.S. authorities in hope of being reunited with his 2-year-old daughter.

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