Last Major Colombian Drug Lord Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, extradited to the U.S.
By Dialogo July 11, 2013
Colombia extradited Daniel “El Loco” Barrera to the United States on July 9. He was considered the last major Colombian drug lord, and Washington offered a reward of five million dollars for him.
The drug trafficker, captured in Venezuela on September 18, 2012 and later deported to Colombia, was handed over to DEA agents in Bogotá before arriving later that afternoon in New York and pleading not guilty to the charges before him.
Barrera was wanted by the courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, and another court in Florida, which accuse him of creating an illicit organization between 1992 and 2012 that smuggled over 900 tons of cocaine to the United States and Europe.
“Thanks to cooperation efforts between our Colombian and U.S. police counterparts, Barrera’s criminal career is over, since he is now facing charges that could carry life behind bars,” DEA director Michele Leonhart said in a statement released after the drug lord arrived in New York.
After handing him over, Colombian Police Director General José Roberto León assured that, “this is the end of the major drug lords of the 80s.”
Before departing Colombia on a DEA aircraft, 43-year-old Barrera was submitted to a medical exam and shown to the press handcuffed and protected by a bulletproof vest.
“This is the end of the first generation of major Colombian drug traffickers,” stated General León when he highlighted the importance of extradition of Barrera, who made alliances with several armed groups.
“He managed to sit at the same table with members of the FARC, criminal gangs, and drug trafficking organizations,” the officer said.
According to the Colombian Police, Barrera shipped drugs from eastern Colombia through Venezuela, México, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Panamá, as well as several other Central American countries, into the United States.
The drug lord’s extradition was supported by the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice on April 4, and it was later approved by President Santos.
Barrera started his drug-related activities in the 80s by trafficking raw material for cocaine processing.
In 1990 he was captured, although months later he escaped from prison. He has been attributed with the assassination of paramilitary leader Miguel Arroyave.
According to the police report, “months ago he had decided to start talks with U.S. authorities to arrange his surrender, since he was hemmed in by the authorities.”
In 2008, Barrera moved to Venezuela, where he had several properties worth millions of dollars.
His capture in the state of Táchira (west of Venezuelan Andes) was possible due to an operation in which Colombia, Venezuela, the United States and the United Kingdom participated.
Colombia, which suffered from actions by large drug trafficking groups, such as the cartels of Medellín and Cali, has been able to fragment these organizations in recent years.