Colombia extradited one of the most sought-after alleged cocaine traffickers to Venezuela in a major victory for President Hugo Chavez over Washington, which had also requested the extradition.
Walid Makled, known as “the Turk,” controlled much of the cocaine shipped through Venezuela, according to U.S. officials. He was captured in August in a sweltering Colombian border town on a U.S. warrant.
His case was especially important for the U.S. because of the alleged links that Mr. Makled has to top generals in Venezuela’s armed forces who remain within President Chavez’s inner circle. In a series of jailhouse interviews with local media, Mr. Makled said he built his billion-dollar drug shipping empire by paying off some 40 generals in the Venezuelan armed forces.
Mr. Makled’s extradition to Venezuela also marks a reversal for Washington’s efforts to fight narcotics in the Andean region. The U.S had tagged Mr. Makled as one of the world’s most powerful drug lords, but was not as quick as Venezuela in presenting its extradition request when he was detained last year. That delay was used by Colombia, Washington’s closest ally in the region, to explain its decision to send Mr. Makled to Venezuela instead of the U.S.
Noticias 24 posted videos of Makled’s arrival,
Noticias 24 also has (in Spanish) a chronology of the Makled case.