August 23, 2006

Suspected Colombian drug lord extradited to U.S.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A suspected Colombian drug lord
pleaded innocent on Wednesday to charges that he smuggled $100
million worth of cocaine from Colombia to the United States via
Panama and Mexico.

Manuel Felipe Salazar Espinoza, nicknamed "Hoover," was
extradited to New York from Colombia on Tuesday to face
narcotics trafficking and money-laundering charges, federal
prosecutors said in a statement.

It said Salazar Espinoza headed an international drug
trafficking organization that smuggled cocaine by the ton
aboard speedboats running from Colombia to Panama.

The drugs were then shipped to Mexico hidden inside heavy
machinery, and from there they were smuggled into the United
States through a Mexican drug ring, the statement said.

Colombian authorities arrested Salazar Espinoza on a U.S.
request in May 2005. Two months later Panamanian police seized
more than 1,300 kg (2,866 lb) of cocaine hidden inside a crane.
U.S. authorities allege the drugs were placed there by Salazar
Espinoza's organization, the statement said.

A grand jury indictment of Salazar Espinoza accuses him of
smuggling 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) of cocaine -- worth more than
$100 million -- between 2002 and 2005.

Appearing in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, Salazar
Espinoza did not apply for bail and was taken back to jail.