Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Monday, 29 June 2009 18:39 UK

Man jailed for role in drug ring

Carlos Arturo Sanchez-Corovado, pictured left
Sanchez-Coronado's extradition may set a precedent

The first man to be extradited from Colombia to the UK has been jailed for five-and-a-half years for helping a drugs ring launder its huge profits.

Carlos Arturo Sanchez-Coronado, 43, fled Britain, having been a "money deliverer" for the London-based gang.

By 2006, 31 people had been jailed for their roles in the gang, which was linked to Colombia's Cali cartel.

Sanchez-Coronado admitted three charges last month connected to money laundering and fake documents.

The organisation's share of the UK drugs market was such that when it was dismantled, the price of cocaine in the country rose by 50%.

It shows that extradition is available not just for those at the top of criminal organisations but also for those much lower in it as well
Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith

Jesus Anibal Ruiz-Henao, 45, the head of the gang, and his deputy, brother-in-law Mario Tascon, 32, were jailed for 19 years and 17 years respectively in 2006 for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and money laundering offences.

Following raids on their north-west London homes in 2004, detectives seized millions of pounds as well as cocaine and cannabis worth £100m.

Sanchez-Coronado was tracked down in Colombia in May last year where he was working as a taxi driver.

After a lengthy legal case, a Colombian judge sanctioned the extradition, the basis of which derives from a treaty signed in 1889.

'Powerful tool'

Although he had a relatively minor role in the gang, authorities believe the prosecution sets a major precedent.

Sentencing the defendant at Southwark Crown Court, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith said: "I am delighted to see that co-operation between our two countries has resulted in this defendant facing his proper penalty.

"It shows that extradition is available not just for those at the top of criminal organisations but also for those much lower in it as well."

A spokesman for the Serious Organised Crime Agency said: "What today has shown is that we have a very powerful tool which has been scrutinised in a court of law that we now know works, and it is our intention to use this in the future where appropriate."

Mark Sahu, for Sanchez-Coronado, said his client used the money he earned to help his sick daughter in Colombia.

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