Gunmen Kill Policeman, Journalist; Three Drug Suspects Extradited to U.S.
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Gunmen killed an off-duty policeman and an explosion injured another officer in Medellin on Saturday as three drug traffickers were extradited to the United States, authorities said.
The extraditions brought to four the number of suspected narcotics figures sent to the United States since the Colombian government declared war on the cocaine trade in mid-August.
A homemade bomb exploded Saturday at a national police installation in Medellin, slightly injuring an officer, said a spokesman for the city’s police. The blast damaged a police vehicle repair shop and a number of parked cars.
Hours earlier, unidentified men shot and killed a 29-year-old off-duty Medellin police officer, the spokesman said on condition of anonymity.
Since the goverment began its crackdown on the nation’s drug cartels, there have been 162 bombings and police have blamed drug traffickers. Eleven people have died in the blasts and 184 have been injured.
On Friday night, two gunmen killed a broadcast newsman in front of his home in Monteria, about 300 miles north of Bogota. He was the fourth journalist assassinated in four days.
A national police spokesman said 57-year-old William Bendeck Olivella, the director of a local radio news program, was shot in the head several times and that his assassins fled on a motorcycle.
Bogota’s El Tiempo newspaper reported that Bendeck Olivella had been a ″passionate″ critic of the country’s drug traffickers and guerrilla groups.
No group claimed responsibility for the killing, but it was the latest in a series of attacks on journalists, government officials and judges blamed on drug lords.
Three media employees were killed Tuesday in Medellin, home of Colombia’s most notorious cocaine cartel. Slain were two employees of Bogota’s El Espectador newspaper and a magazine director.
A group calling itself the Extraditables, believed to be the assassination squad for the Medellin cartel, claimed responsibility for the slayings of the El Espectador workers. In an anonymous phone call to the paper, a man saying he represented the group said it would kill the rest of the paper’s small staff in the city if they did not leave within three days.
El Espectador has been a strong supporter of President Virgilio Barco’s war on narcotics. Colombian drug cartels are believed to supply up to 80 percent of the cocaine distributed in the United States.
Barco announced his war on drugs after the assassination Aug. 18 of Sen. Luis Carlos Galan, the leading presidential candidate and an anti-drug crusader. Barco said he would seize the property of drug traffickers and extradite reputed narcotics figures to the United States.
Drug lords fear extradition to the United States more than criminal prosecution in Colombia, where the regular killings of judicial figures have virtually paralyzed the legal system. The United States has a list of reputed drug figures wanted on narcotics trafficking charges. The list of the top 12 drug lords has been made public.
In Washington, Justice Department spokesman David Runkel said the Colombian government extradited Bernardo Pelaez Roldan, Ana Rodriguez de Tamayo and Roberto Peter Carlini to the United States on Saturday.
Ms. Tamayo, 37, was flown into Miami aboard a U.S. government aircraft and transferred to a federal women’s detention center in suburban Miami for a court appearance by Monday.
Carlini was to travel to Orlando, Fla., where he faces federal drug smuggling charges brought earlier this year as well as state drug smuggling charges issued before that, Runkel said.
Pelaez Roldan was convicted in absentia in Detroit of federal drug smuggling charges. He was to be delivered to Detroit.
The extraditions bring to four the number of people bought to this country from Colombia since Aug 18, but none is on the U.S. government’s most wanted list. The first, Eduardo Martinez Romero, was sent to Atlanta Sept. 6 to face money laundering charges.
Brazilian federal police on Saturday announced the seizure of 450 pounds of pure Colombian cocaine destined for Miami in a northern Amazon port city, police said.
Police on Friday found the drugs, with an estimated street value of $15 million, inside the floor of a twin-engine plane at the International Airport of Belem, 2,140 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro at the mouth of the Amazon river, police spokesman Myrtes Pontes said.
She said from Rio de Janeiro there had been no arrests but that police were searching for suspects.