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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 December, 2003, 00:04 GMT
Colombia 'drugs baron' surrenders
Seized packages of cocaine
Colombia produces 70% of the world's cocaine
A man accused of being a leading member of the Cali drugs cartel has given himself up in the Colombian city of Bucaramanga, police say.

Daniel Serrano Gomez allegedly served as the accountant of the drug ring which dominated the world's cocaine trade in the 1990s.

He is thought to be the third highest-ranking Cali cartel member in custody.

The two brothers who founded the group, Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, were imprisoned in 1995.

The Rodriguez brothers obtained the monopoly of the multi-billion dollar cocaine industry after rival drug lord Pablo Escobar was killed by police in 1993.

Sensitive issue

US authorities had requested the extradition of all three, plus eight other associates, on 18 December.

The extradition order alleges that the Rodriguez brothers have continued to run their empire from their prison cells in Colombia, where they have been confined since 1995.

Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela
Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela was re-arrested in March this year
They are charged with smuggling 55 tonnes of cocaine, laundering about $2bn and silencing those who might testify against them, either through bribery or by murder.

Drug smugglers face tougher jail sentences in the US than in Colombia.

If the request goes ahead, the brothers would become the highest-profile drug lords to be sent to the US to face justice since Colombia lifted a ban on extradition in 1997.

But there are still several hurdles to cross.

The request must be authorised by President Alvaro Uribe and the supreme court.

As extraditions to the US are a sensitive issue in Colombia, correspondents say it is unclear how the president will act.

US goes after Cali cocaine bosses
24 Dec 03  |  Americas
Q&A: US involvement in Colombia
24 Apr 02  |  Americas
Country profile: Colombia
12 Jul 03  |  Country profiles

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