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Colombia Suspect To Be Extradited

June 21, 2000

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Colombian drug suspect could be sent to the United States, paving the way for the second such extradition after a decade-long hiatus.

Orlando Garcia, 47, was one of 18 alleged members of a cocaine smuggling ring arrested in a February 1999 sweep.

He faces a New Jersey indictment for smuggling 230 pounds of cocaine into the United States in liquor boxes, the Supreme Court said.

His alleged role in the organization _ based in the port of Buenaventura and headed by reputed kingpin Jorge Asprilla, who is also in jail pending an extradition request _ was unclear.

President Andres Pastrana, who has resumed extraditions in courting improved U.S. ties and anti-narcotics aid, has 10 days to either uphold or reject the Supreme Court’s decision.

Garcia would be the first Colombian extradited to the United States since November, when Pastrana sent heroin suspect Jaime Lara to stand trial in New York. Lara was the first Colombian extradited to the United States since 1990.

Colombia’s 1991 constitution _ approved amid a wave of bombings and assassinations by drug cartels _ outlawed extradition, but the practice was reinstated in 1997.

U.S. extradition requests are pending for many Colombians far better known than Garcia. They include former Medellin cocaine boss Fabio Ochoa.

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