Alleged Drug Baron On Trial In US Runs for State Legislature
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Carlos Lehder Rivas, now being tried in the United States on charges of drug trafficking, is running for a state legislative seat in Colombia, a registrar’s office reported Wednesday.
The prosecutor for Lehder’s trial in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Fla., has said Lehder earned millions smuggling cocaine into the United States and at one time even owned an island in the Bahamas which he used as a way station.
Colombia will hold its first mayoral elections ever on March 13, along with contests for city councils and state legislatures. Until now, mayors have been appointed.
Lehder created the National Latin Movement political party in 1980. It and a small newspaper he started were active in opposing extradition of alleged drug traffickers to the United States.
He used a power of attorney and acted through the Colombian consulate in Tampa, Fla., to get himself on the candidate list for the Quindio state legislature, the Bogota daily El Tiempo said.
Five members of the family of a Colombian convicted of drug trafficking in the United States are running for the city council of Tumaco on the Pacific coast, El Tiempo said.
Samuel Alberto Escruceria, a former senator in Narino state, was sentenced about two years ago to a total of 240 years in prison in the United States.
In the Caribbean port city of Cartagena, Eva Serrano, a 21-year-old running for the city council, appeared topless Tuesday before a crowd of about 3,000 people.
The most important election is in Bogota, the capital, where 22 people are running for mayor.
A poll sponsored by El Tiempo and the RCN radio network indicated the leader was Andres Pastrana, who was kidnapped by drug traffickers and rescued last month. He is the son of former President Misael Pastrana.
He apparently was kidnapped because he spoke out against the drug trade both as the manager of a television news program and mayoral candidate.
Drug traffickers killed Attorney General Carlos Hoyos last month and said they were declaring war on all who favor extradition to the United States.
The second most popular candidate in the Bogota mayoral election appears to be Maria Eugenia Rojas, daughter of the dictator Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, an army general ejected from the presidency in 1957.
Pastrana led in a poll before the abduction with 29.2 percent, but rated 35.3 percent in the latest one, El Tiempo and RCN reported. Miss Rojas had 14.6 percent support.
Mayors previously were appointed by state governors, who in turn have been presidential appointees. The president chose the mayor of Bogota, a city of 6 million people.