Cocaine Kingpin Nabbed in Cuba
BOGOTA, Colombia. July 9, 2004 / Luis Hernando Bustamante, a leader of
Colombia's largest drug cartel that is suspected of smuggling more than
$10 billion worth of cocaine into the United States, has been captured
in Cuba, Colombia's police chief said Friday.
The Cuban government informed Colombian authorities that Bustamante,
better known by his alias "Rasguno (search)," was detained July 2 after
entering Cuba on a false Venezuelan passport, Gen. Jorge Daniel Castro
"At this moment he is being held by the attorney general in Cuba," the
police chief said. "He is one of the biggest Colombian narco-traffickers."
There was no immediate confirmation from Cuba's communist government,
which has not reported on the arrest in its official media.
Colombian officials said anti-narcotics agents will travel to Cuba on
Saturday to seek Bustamante's extradition.
Colombian intelligence learned that Bustamante last month traveled to
Havana on a fake Venezuelan passport and notified local authorities, a
police official said on condition of anonymuty.
Bustamante is among the top three leaders of the Norte del Valle cartel
(search), which supplanted the Medellin and Cali drug organizations in
the early 1990s and is the source of as much as 60 percent of the U.S.
cocaine supply, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration
The U.S. Justice Department and the DEA said they couldn't confirm the
arrest. U.S. officials have offered a $5 million reward for information
leading to Bustamante's capture.
Colombian authorities, meanwhile, estimate that Bustamante is personally
responsible for as much as half of the cocaine shipped from Colombia to
the United States.
A U.S. grand jury indictment unsealed in Washington in May alleges that
Norte del Valle cartel leaders sent more than 1 million pounds of
cocaine from Colombia's Pacific coast to the United States through
Mexico since 1990. Acting in concert with a violent right-wing
paramilitary organization called the United Self-Defense Forces of
Colombia, or AUC, the DEA says the cartel is responsible for at least
500 killings in Colombia.
The cartel used bribery, kidnapping and murder in their operation and
even had their own wiretaps in Colombia to monitor conversations of
rival drug traffickers, the indictment said. The cartel has used trucks,
aircraft, speedboats and fishing boats to smuggle cocaine.
The cartel's founding leader, Diego Leon Montoya (search), appears on
the FBI's most-wanted list. Montoya, however, is locked in a bitter turf
war in the southwestern city of Cali against a rival drug gang led by
Wilber Varela, leaving some 230 dead in the past six months alone.
Colombian authorities, however, said Bustamante has largely stayed out
of that fight.
Archangel de Jesus Henao Montoya, the third top Valle del Norte leader
after Bustamante and Diego Montoya, was captured Jan. 15 in Panama and
immediately extradited to the United States, where he was charged with
conspiracy to import cocaine and conspiracy to launder money.
Henao, 49, is also accused of employing members of the AUC to protect
the cartel's drug routes and laboratories and has been implicated in
Source: Fox News