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Homeland Security

31 October 2005

U.S., Colombia Work Together To Capture Colombian Drug Trafficker

Capture of Cano Correa called part of "unprecedented" U.S.-Colombian teamwork

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- U.S. and Colombian law authorities have teamed up to capture and arrest a Colombian drug trafficker and money launderer, a man whom the United States describes as one of Colombia's most violent and dangerous drug criminals.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced that Jhon Eidelber Cano Correa was captured in Colombia's Antioquia province October 29 after a brief firefight that left one Colombian law enforcement officer wounded.

Cano Correa is a member of Colombia's Norte Valle Cartel, which is described as that nation's largest and most feared drug-trafficking organization.  Between 1990 and 2004, the cartel allegedly exported more than half a million kilograms of cocaine worth more than $10 billion to the United States.  ICE said the cartel is believed to have been responsible for between 30 percent and 50 percent of the cocaine entering the United States.

The agencies involved in the capture were the Colombian National Police's "Jungla" unit, which worked with special agents from the ICE attaché office in Colombia's capital city of Bogotá, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.  ICE is the investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Cano Correa is charged in a July 2004 indictment in the Eastern District of New York with drug and money-laundering violations in connection with the Norte Valle Cartel.

The arrest of Cano Correa "is yet another example of the unprecedented law enforcement cooperation between U.S. and Colombian authorities," said John Clark, ICE acting assistant secretary.  "The arrest also demonstrates the value of pursuing the money trail in drug investigations.  This case began with a raid on three money transmitting businesses in Queens [New York] nearly a decade ago and ultimately led to the highest levels of the Norte Valle Cartel."

The U.S. Justice Department says members of the Norte Valle Cartel regard murder as an accepted practice to eliminate rival drug traffickers, buyers who fail to pay for cocaine, and cartel members whose loyalty is suspect.  In order to protect its distribution routes and cocaine laboratories, the cartel employs the services of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), an illegal armed group in Colombia that has been listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department.  (See related article.)

The AUC is one of three groups in Colombia that the State Department has designated as terrorist organizations.  The two others are left-wing organizations: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army.  That designation makes it illegal for U.S. citizens or for anyone else subject to U.S. jurisdiction to knowingly provide material support or resources to such groups.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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