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Four Colombians, One Cuban Extradited to United States

February 14, 1986

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ A Cuban and four Colombians, including a former legislator, were extradited Friday to the United States on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering, the U.S. Embassy said.

The Cuban, Rene Benitez, had been jailed in Colombia since 1982 on charges of attempting to murder a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

The Colombian government has not said why Benitez never was tried on the charge. In the United States, he is charged in four indictments with conspiring to distribute cocaine, a U.S. Embassy spokesman told The Associated Press.

He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal by drug traffickers.

Also extradited were Severo Escobar, a former Colombian congressman and former minister of agriculture for the state of Cundinamaraca, and Carlos Troncoso, Jose Cabrera, and Berta Paez de Gonzalez, according to the spokesman.

The five were flown to Miami on a U.S. Air Force plane, a source with Colombia’s Immigration Department told the Associated Press. He said they were taken to the plane from a Bogota prison at 3 a.m.

Drug traffickers threatened in 1984 to kill five Americans for every Colombian extradited, but those threats have not been carried out.

However, the U.S. Embassy said drug traffickers planted a bomb that exploded across the street from the embassy in 1984, killing a Colombian passerby.

Friday’s extraditions brought to 12 the number of Colombians sent by the government to the United States on drug charges since the two countries signed an extradition treaty in 1980.

Colombia has extradited only three non-Colombians to the United States under the treaty - one American, one German and Benitez.

The Colombian Immigration Department source, who also spoke with the condition that he not be identified, said Benitez is a Cuban-American.

The U.S. Embassy spokesman said, ″These latest extraditions reflect a serious commitment in our mutual efforts against narcotics trafficking and to implement the Colombian-U.S. extradition treaty and an important pool in bringing these criminals to justice.″

He said he could give no further information, including the specifics contained in the indictments against the four Colombians.

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