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Cali cartel chief gets 28 years for kidnapping

April 16, 1997

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ A top leader of the Cali drug cartel has been sentenced to 28 years in prison, but for kidnapping, not narcotics trafficking.

Phanor Arizabaleta, considered No. 5 in the syndicate, was convicted and sentenced for extorsive kidnapping Tuesday by a regional judge in Cali, the chief prosecutor’s office said.

Arizabaleta, in a maximum-security Bogota prison since his July 1995 surrender, is still awaiting trial on drug-trafficking charges.

On Tuesday, he was found guilty of ordering the 1992 kidnapping of Harold Barbosa, whose sister owed him $200,000.

Drug traffickers in Colombia have frequently used kidnapping as a means to cover unpaid debts or to force others to make good on an agreement.

The sentence is the highest yet for a top Cali cartel leader, all of whom are in jail after their surrender or capture beginning in mid-1995. Others have received lesser sentences on trafficking convictions.

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