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Four Colombians, One Cuban Extradited to United States Precede BOGOTA

February 15, 1986

HOMESTEAD AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AP) _ Four Colombians and a Cuban-American facing drug charges in this country arrived from Colombia on a U.S. military plane Friday in what one official called an ″excellent example of international law enforcement cooperation.″

″DEA considers these very major traffickers,″ said Bill Deac, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington. ″We consider this an excellent example of international law enforcement cooperation.″

Among the four men and one woman was Rene Benitez, accused of the 1982 kidnappings and shootings of two DEA agents in Cartagena, Colombia, and Jose Antonio ″Pepe″ Cabrera-Sarmiento, who authorities say ran one of the world’s largest cocaine trafficking rings.

A third man, Severo Enrique Escobar, 56, already has been convicted in New York of federal drug charges, authorities said. He escaped in 1984 after being arrested for selling 24 kilos of cocaine to undercover DEA agents, authorities said. He was tried and convicted in absentia.

Escobar is a former Colombian congressman and former minister of agriculture for the state of Cundinamaraca.

A U.S. Embassy official in Bogota identified the other suspects as Carlos Troncoso and Berta Paez de Gonzalez.

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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