Colombian Lawmakers Indicted In U.S. Drug Probe
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ The drug indictments of two Colombian lawmakers are a warning to alleged drug figures who feel official positions will protect them from prosecution, a federal attorney says.
A Colombian alternate senator and his son, a congressman in that country, were indicted on charges they supplied cocaine to a three-state drug ring operating out of North Carolina, U.S. Attorney Sam Currin said Tuesday.
The indictments charge that between 1983 and 1987, the Escruceria family were the primary suppliers to the ring, providing at least 10 pounds of cocaine, Currin said.
He Currin cautioned that the amount of cocaine specified in the indictment was not precise.
″It’s impossible to know at this point the full extent of the amount that came in or the monetary value,″ Currin said.
Samuel Alberto Escruceria-Delgado, 51, was arrested Thursday night in Miami Beach, Fla., when federal agents learned that he was preparing to return to Colombia and ″crashed″ his going-away party, Currin said.
Escruceria-Delgado, a 24-year member of the Colombian legislature, serves as a designated alternate senator, with the right to vote in the National Congress of Colombia when the primary senator is unavailable.
Also charged in the indictment were the senator’s son, Samuel Alberto Escruceria-Manzi, a congressman representing Cali in the National Legislature of Colombia, and his wife, Maria E. Lorza-Escruceria. Both are in Colombia.
Currin said Escruceria-Delgado was held briefly in Raleigh, but was transferred late Tuesday afternoon to an undisclosed location.
The U.S. State Department is working with Colombia to bring Escruceria- Manzi and his wife here, Currin said.
The ring was the ″major cocaine distribution ring in North Carolina over the past four or five years,″ Currin said.
″I consider these indictments today to be very significant in our continuing effort to arrest and indict major drug traffickers, especially drug traffickers who are in foreign governments and wield extensive power in foreign governments and feel that they can bring drugs into the United States with impunity and somehow escape the long arm of the law,″ Currin said.
The investigation of the Escruceria family and Gutierrez resulted in at least 20 arrests and convictions in North Carolina, Virginia and Florida, Currin said. The alleged ringleader was among those arrested.