Argentine Authorities Arrest Suspected Colombian Drug Trafficker; Extradition to US Underway

A suspected Colombian drug trafficker who operated under the radar for years in Argentina was described Friday as a ringleader capable of giving direct orders to Colombia’s most-wanted cocaine kingpins and with close ties to Mexico’s feared Sinaloa cartel.

Luis Caicedo Velandia was arrested as he walked near a Buenos Aires shopping mall April 12 and has been held under extremely high security, according to Argentine authorities, who did not reveal his capture until the United States formally filed a request for his extradition this week.

Caicedo, a former Colombian police official who carried a false Guatemalan passport, is responsible for moving tons of cocaine into the U.S. and laundering billions of dollars in profits.

Representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, the Justice Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington declined to comment on the indictment filed in New York City, saying it is a continuing investigation.

U.S. officials presented a case file more than 300 pages thick in support of his extradition, a process scheduled to begin within 10 days that can be appealed up to Argentina’s Supreme Court.

According to Argentine and Colombian media, intelligence agencies from all three countries focused on Caicedo after containers were intercepted in the ports of Manzanillo, Mexico, and Buenaventura, Colombia, containing drug profits hidden among shipments of fertilizer. Caicedo’s phone calls were later intercepted, leading authorities to Buenos Aires, where he was quietly living under a Guatemalan alias in a gated suburban community.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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