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Page last updated at 22:00 GMT, Tuesday, 17 June 2008 23:00 UK

Colombia warlord admits smuggling

Murillo is extradited to the US (09/05/2008)
Prosecutors said Murillo was in charge of trafficking cocaine for the AUC

A leading former Colombian right-wing paramilitary leader has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges before a court in New York, US prosecutors say.

Diego Fernando Murillo acknowledged he had conspired with military, political and "anti-communist" forces to smuggle tonnes of cocaine into the US.

Murillo, also known as Don Berna, now faces between 27 and 33 years in jail.

He and 13 other paramilitary leaders were extradited to the US last month. The others will face trial later.

The extraditions came after the Colombian government said the men had failed to abide by a peace deal under which their groups were demobilised.

Under the 2003 accord, the paramilitary leaders were to confess to their crimes and surrender the proceeds in exchange for reduced jail terms and extradition protection.

The paramilitaries were organised and funded by wealthy landowners and drug traffickers to combat rebel armies, but evolved into drug cartels accused of committing some of the country's worst atrocities.

Murillo was in charge of trafficking cocaine to the US for what is thought to have been the largest paramilitary group, the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), US prosecutors said.



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