Jailer of Betancourt and Three Americans Extradited to U.S.

By Dialogo
July 16, 2009

Bogotá, 16 July (EFE).- Former FARC chief Gerardo Antonio Aguilar, alias “Caesar,” one of the jailers of former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans, was extradited to the U.S. today with rigorous security measures in place. About fifty policemen escorted “Caesar” to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) airplane that was to take him to Washington to be tried by a District of Colombia court on drug-trafficking and money-laundering charges. “He has been turned over to the American authorities,” said the director of the Colombian Judicial Police (Dijin), Gen. Luis Ramírez, in reference to the former FARC guerrilla, who was protected the entire time by about fifty police personnel and a bullet-proof helmet and vest. “Caesar” was one of the jailers holding Betancourt and three Americans until they were rescued by the Colombian army on 2 July 2008 during Operation Jaque, in which a total of fifteen hostages held by the FARC were freed and “Caesar” was captured, along with another guerrilla chief. The Dijin turned the former rebel over to the DEA at the Catam military airport, in western Bogotá, after a rigorous medical examination in which it was determined that he has psoriasis, an illness of the skin. The extradition operation began at 4:30 a.m. local time (9:30 a.m. GMT) from La Picota jail, in southern Bogotá, from which the prisoner took with him a sweater, underwear, and a dermatological cream. “He is a quite nervous person and is worried about his future in the United States, and in fact, this should serve as a warning to the other terrorists in the FARC that their future is either in jail or put out of business by the forces of the state,” General Ramírez said. “Caesar’s” extradition on drug-trafficking charges was authorized by the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) on 19 February, but the court indicated that he could not be tried for the crime of hostage-taking, as the U.S. Justice Department argued in its extradition request. “Caesar” was captured on 2 July 2008 when an undercover operation by the Colombian army rescued fifteen hostages held by the FARC, among whom were Americans Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell, and Marc Gonsalves, kidnapped on 13 February 2003 in the jungles of southern Colombia. Stansell, Gonsalves, and Howes, the pilot, were working for a firm contracted by the U.S. Defense Department to collect information on drug plantations in Colombia, but the FARC accused them of spying for the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
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