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Remnants of Medellin Cartel Still Exist, Colombian Official Says With AM-Colombia-Escobar, Bjt

December 3, 1993

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Remnants of Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel have reorganized, and there are four other drug cartels in Colombia to deal with, that country’s attorney general said Friday.

″I think we should not be extremely optimistic that the Medellin cartel has been destroyed,″ Attorney General Carlos Arrieta said at a news conference.

″We have information that some of the people that used to be part of the cartel of Medellin are out of it and have organized a minor cartel,″ he said.

However, he said that the terrorist arm of the cartel has been destroyed.

Other cartels are in Cali, Bogota, Bucaramanga and on the northern coast, he said.

The Cali cartel smuggles up to 70 percent of the cocaine entering the United States, he said.

″The Cali cartel has not been involved in terrorist activities in the past as the Medellin cartel had,″ Arrieta said. ″Of course it doesn’t mean that the Cali cartel is just angels or pure and simple businessmen. No. They are criminals and as so they have been and will be persecuted and prosecuted by the Colombian authorities,″ he said.

Escobar’s death will not affect the flow of drugs much to the United States because Escobar has been on the run for the last year and a half and his smuggling operations were ″absolutely minor.″

Colombian Ambassador Gabriel Silva said that Escobar’s death was ″the beginning of the end for drug trafficking in Colombia.″

Arrieta expressed gratitude for U.S. assistance in the drug wars, but said Thursday’s slaying of Escobar was a 100 percent Colombian operation.

He said Colombia would like to see more help from other countries.

″Many times we feel alone in this struggle and we believe that this is the kind of fight that a country like Colombia cannot fight alone,″ he said.

Asked about the possibility of recovering Escobar’s fortune, estimated at $2.5 billion, Arrieta said, ″I personally don’t feel optimistic on that subject ... because we don’t have the information where it is or who has it.″

Colombian drug traffickers usually leave their wealth in the names of family, associates and friends so the government cannot confiscate it.