13 Colombians sent to U.S. on drug, money charges.

Colombian authorities sent 13 alleged drug traffickers and money launderers to South Florida on Wednesday in the second mass extradition this year.

In addition, the Associated Press reported that Colombia's Supreme Court has authorized the extradition to the United States of one of two brothers who helped found the Cali drug cartel.

The decision to extradite Gilberto Rodríguez-Orejuela came after an indictment by the United States on charges that he and his brother, Miguel, continued to run the billion-dollar drug operation from Colombian prison cells.

The 13 suspects sent to South Florida on Wednesday are not from any of the major drug cartels, according to a spokeswoman for Colombia's judicial police. ''These are the small ones, from our emerging drug-trafficking organizations,'' said the spokeswoman, Doris Del Campo.

Ten of the 13 suspects were wanted on federal charges in Florida. Two others face charges in New York and one is charged in Massachusetts, Del Campo said.

Colombian officials have increased the pace of extraditions since President Alvaro Uribe took power in 2002. Fourteen nationals were sent to the United States on a September flight, and 64 have been extradited so far this year. Last year, Colombia extradited 67.

The Rodríguez-Orejuela brothers have been in jail for nearly a decade for their leadership of the cartel, which was supposedly dismantled in the late 1990s.

But investigators believe that the two have maintained part of the business through Miguel Rodríguez-Orejuela's elder son, who controlled day-to-day operations.

American prosecutors say that between 1990 and 2002, the drug operation imported tons of cocaine into the United States by hiding it in shipments of concrete posts, frozen vegetables, lumber, ceramic tiles, coffee and chlorine cylinders.

The court has yet to rule on an extradition request for Miguel Rodríguez-Orejuela.

[Source: Miami Herald Tribune, Miami, Usa, 04Oct04]

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