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Traffickers Threaten Reprisals After Arrest of Carlos Lehder With PM-Lehder-Drug Arrest

February 6, 1987

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Colombia’s drug underworld has threatened to retaliate for the arrest of narcotics kingpin Carlos Lehder Rivas and his extradition to the United States, police and government spokesmen said.

But Justice Minister Eduardo Suescun said at a news conference Thursday that Colombia would hunt down all drug traffickers still at large.

″Justice will always prevail,″ he said.

Threats of reprisals came in telephone calls from people who identified themselves only as members of the ″extraditers group,″ national police and Foreign Ministry sources told The Associated Press. The group has claimed responsibility for previous attacks on officials.

Lehder arrived in the United States on Thursday to face drug traffikcing charges in Florida.

Soldiers captured Lehder before dawn Wednesday at his rural mansion in northwest Colombia and handed him over to U.S. officials, who flew him to Florida on a U.S. Air Force plane.

The Defense Ministry said the soldiers acted on an anonymous tip.

The tip said ″a big fish″ was there, but did not name Lehder, the Bogota daily El Tiempo quoted army sources as saying.

It said a jubilant police major, William Lemos, shouted, ″Well, well, the Virgin Mary has fallen out of the sky 3/8″ as he read the name in Lehder’s passport.

Lehder is the first member captured of the so-called Medellin Cartel, which the Colombian attorney general’s office says smuggles 80 percent of the cocaine and marijuana entering the United States.

Since the government began approving extradition of Colombians to the United States three years ago, a justice minister, a Supreme Court justice, 20 other federal judges and a newspaper editor have been murdered. The killings have been blamed on drug traffickers.

The attorney general’s office set up special telephones and post office boxes to receive tips on the whereabouts of drug traffickers. Justice Minister Suescun said one of those led to the mansion near Medellin.

Update hourly