Colombia on Thursday extradited to the United States the brother of a powerful leftist senator accused of smuggling vast quantities of cocaine with dissident guerrillas.
Álvaro Córdoba was handed over to DEA agents, the US anti-drug agency, in handcuffs for a charter flight to New York.
The case was a landmine for President Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla fighter who approved the extradition of his ally’s brother, despite his criticism of Colombia’s role as a US operative in the drug war. Was doing.
Córdoba was arrested in Medellin, Colombia, last February on drug and arms trafficking charges brought by a federal grand jury in Manhattan.
In a historic victory last year, his sister Piad was elected to the Córdoba Senate as part of Petro’s coalition. For decades, she has been a left-wing pillar in deeply conservative Colombia, promoting peace with rebel groups, closer ties to Venezuela’s socialist government and greater support for traditionally marginalized Afro-Colombian communities.
Piedad has said he and his brother are the targets of a manhunt similar to the one that took out Medellin cartel boss Pablo Escobar decades ago.
But his complaints of “political persecution” have so far gone unheeded, and Petro, soon after his election, suggested that he take a break from politics. In September, Petro signed off on Córdoba’s extradition, something that was taken as a sign of hope in Washington, which had been building on Colombia’s support for more than two decades to limit shipments of cocaine to the United States. is counted.
According to Colombian court documents, the 63-year-old nutritionist was the target of a sting operation coordinated with the DEA.
In several recorded meetings, the confidential source told Córdoba that he wanted to smuggle up to three tons of cocaine into New York through Mexico, according to an affidavit by DEA Special Agent Matthew Passmore, with a request for extradition authorized by the Supreme Court. Seeking security within Colombia. Court of Justice of Colombia.
The affidavit states that Córdoba put the source in touch with an associate, who told him he had a large quantity of “chickens”, allegedly in reference to cocaine.
Defendant also offered to arrange for a DEA source to visit a secret camp in the jungles of southern Colombia where 300 guerrillas armed with surface-to-air missiles and other weapons were tasked with securing the passage of narcotics. Will handle The rebel unit was led by a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) commander who refused to accept a 2016 peace deal that Piedad Córdoba helped broker.