Sunday, October 30, 2005
BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) - Colombia captured a top cocaine trafficker wanted for extradition by the United States in a jungle commando raid on Sunday after a firefight with his paramilitary bodyguards, police said.
John Eidelber Cano, a leader of the violent Norte del Valle cartel which is accused of smuggling thousands of kilograms of cocaine to the United States, was arrested near the town of Caucasia in Antioquia province, Colombia's national police said in a statement.
Cano, who has a $5 million government reward on his head, was captured when helicopters and assault troops swooped on his jungle hiding place where he was guarded by about 20 members of a right-wing paramilitary. All the guards, escaped after a short gunfight, the statement said.
Colombia's paramilitary militias, organized in the 1980s by cattle ranchers and drug traffickers trying to protect their property against left-wing rebels, are in peace talks with the government.
Police said they had been following Cano, wanted in New York for drug trafficking and money laundering, for six months and captured him with the help of an informant who will receive the reward.
Norte del Valle is this Andean country's biggest cocaine cartel. Police say it has smuggled billions of dollars of the drug to the United States and has assassinated hundreds of people in central and southwest Colombia where it operates.