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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 October, 2004, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
Colombia chases trafficker assets
By Jeremy McDermott
BBC correspondent in Medellin

Colombia
Millions have been displaced by Colombia's 40-year civil conflict
The Colombian government of Alvaro Uribe is pursuing a relentless campaign to seize drug traffickers' assets.

The plan is to sell the assets to plug holes in government finances, and to give some of the land taken to those displaced by the country's violence.

Three million have been displaced by 40 years of civil conflict.

Mr Uribe passed the law which states that any assets that could have been bought by funds from drugs trafficking can be taken by the state and sold.

The government has just handed some 2,500 hectares of seized land to more than 40 displaced families - and it promises there is plenty more land to come.

Fear of retribution

Armed with the legislation, Mr Uribe has unleashed the judicial police in raids across the country.

Last month it was the turn of the now extinct Cali drug cartel whose bosses, the Rodriguez Orejuela brothers, are in prison.

Pablo Escobar
Authorities seized the luxury estate of the late Escobar

More than 3,000 assets, including luxury properties, vehicles, planes, companies and even a chain of pharmacies, were seized.

The same happened to the luxury estate of the legendary head of the Medellin drug cartel, Pablo Escobar, who was killed in a shoot-out with police in 1993.

However, there is a fear of retribution among those taking possession of assets that once belonged to drugs traffickers.

The government has made a recent offer to lease planes that had been used to smuggle drugs.

But there were no takers, despite the very favourable terms of the offer.

The drugs traffickers have long memories and long arms that reach out from their prison cells - and perhaps even from their graves.




SEE ALSO:
Colombia seizes Cali drug assets
16 Sep 04  |  Americas
Colombia wins drug baron's house
30 Aug 04  |  Americas
US goes after Cali cocaine bosses
24 Dec 03  |  Americas
Q&A: Colombia's civil conflict
06 May 03  |  Americas
Country profile: Colombia
19 Aug 04  |  Country profiles


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