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Fugitive and Alleged Colombian Drug Cartel Leader Extradited to U.S.

Posted by kinchendavid on October 5, 2006

By Jim Kouri

A fugitive who is accused of being a drug trafficking and money laundering kingpin from Colombia’s Norte Valle Cartel has been extradited to the United States.

Jhon Eidelber Cano-Correa arrived in New York Friday night, Sept. 22, 2006, where he was formally placed under arrest by immigration agents. He had been flown from Colombia aboard a US Customs and Border Protection aircraft accompanied by special agents.

Cano-Correa is then made his initial court appearance on Monday, Sept. 25, 2006, before the Honorable Joanna Seybert of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

In October 2005, the Colombian National Police’s “Jungla” unit, working with special agents from the ICE Attaché Office in Bogotá and the Drug Enforcement Administration, captured Cano-Correa in Colombia’s Antioquia department after a brief firefight that left one Colombian law enforcement officer wounded.

Cano-Correa is considered one of the most violent and dangerous members of Colombia’s Norte Valle Cartel and a significant ICE criminal fugitive.

In 2004, the US State Department offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Cano-Correa and four other Norte Valle Cartel fugitives. Cano-Correa is charged in a July 2004 indictment in the Eastern District of New York with drug and money laundering violations in connection with the Norte Valle Cartel.

Indictments out of the Eastern District of New York in 2003 and 2004 describe the Norte Valle Cartel as Colombia’s largest and most feared drug organization. Between 1990 and 2004, the cartel allegedly exported more than 1.2 million pounds of cocaine worth more than $10 billion to the US At one time, the cartel was believed to be responsible for between 30 and 50 percent of the cocaine entering the United States. They are also responsible for shipping tons of cocaine to European nations such as the United Kingdom.

Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security Julie Myers stated” “The extradition of Jhon Eidelber Cano-Correa, a dangerous ICE criminal fugitive, is yet another example of the unprecedented law enforcement cooperation between US and Colombian authorities.”

“The arrest also demonstrates the value of pursuing the money trail in drug investigations. This case began with a raid on three money transmitting businesses in Queens nearly a decade ago and ultimately led to the highest levels of the Norte Valle Cartel,” Secretary Myers said.

“The arrest and extradition of this once-powerful drug trafficker demonstrates our shared commitment to ensure that those who bring illegal drugs into our country will face justice in an American court of law,” stated United States Attorney Mauskopf.

Mauskopf thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations for their assistance in the capture.

The cartel indictments and Cano-Correa’s arrest resulted from a lengthy investigation that began in the mid-1990s and was conducted by the El Dorado Task Force, an ICE-led anti-money laundering task force in New York, as well as by ICE agents in Colombia and Colombian authorities with the assistance of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The ICE probe initially focused on money transmitting businesses in Queens, New York. ICE agents determined that three of these transmitting businesses were owned by Juan Alberto Monsalve, the Norte Valle Cartel’s chief drug distributor in New York. Monsalve was responsible for distributing thousands of kilos of cocaine, laundering more than $70 million, and ordering multiple murders. Monsalve was arrested by ICE agents, convicted, and in May 2002, sentenced to life in prison.

The ICE investigation continued, revealing the structure of the Norte Valle Cartel and leading to charges in Eastern District of New York against its key leaders. The indictments charged Luis Hernando Gomez -Bustamante, a.k.a. “Rasguno,” with operating a Continuing Criminal Enterprise in connection with his leadership role in the cartel.

Another accused leader of the cartel, Arcangel de Jesus Henao-Montoya, was charged with drug and money laundering violations. Several other key members of the cartel including Cano-Correa, Dagoberto Rios-Flores, Jose Aldemar Rendon-Ramirez, and Jaime Maya-Duran were charged as well.

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Jim Kouri is fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). He’s a former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. Kouri has appeared as on-air commentator for more than 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. Kouri’s own web


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