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Cartel Informant Warned of Plot Targeting Bush Son

March 5, 1996

MIAMI (AP) _ The late Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar threatened to kill one of President Bush’s sons while he was in office, an informant from the rival Cali cartel told U.S. officials.

The Secret Service took the threat seriously enough to conduct an extensive interview with the informant and give him a lie detector test, according to the transcript obtained Monday from a 1992 court hearing.

The report came from Luis Santacruz Echeverri, half-brother of Cali cartel leader Jose Santacruz Londono.

Santacruz, nicknamed ``Lucho,″ won a nine-year reduction on a 23-year prison sentence for producing a key witness against deposed Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega.

Santacruz learned about the threat from ``one of the bad guys in Colombia and others secondhand from somebody who was closer to the situation,″ his attorney Joel Rosenthal said in the 1992 hearing.

The transcript did not indicate precisely when the plot was hatched or which son was targeted, but Jeb Bush had extensive business dealings in Latin America during his father’s presidency. Telephone calls for Jeb Bush were not returned Monday.

Secret Service agents interviewed Santacruz in 1990 and came back to administer a polygraph.

``My understanding is that Lucho passed it with flying colors,″ Rosenthal said.

The Secret Service later obtained an interview with one of the people Santacruz named ``after much effort with Lucho’s family,″ he said.

Arrangements were made for further contact, but ``in the meantime, the witness was killed in Colombia, and that’s where the matter ended.″

Escobar was killed in a police raid at his Medellin hideout Dec. 2, 1993.

The transcript came up in testimony by Rosenthal at a hearing on a defense motion seeking a new trial for Noriega, who is serving a 40-year sentence for protecting Medellin cartel drug flights to the United States.

Jeb Bush was the GOP candidate in the Florida governor’s race in 1994, but lost narrowly to Lawton Chiles. He has returned to working in commercial real estate.

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