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| 11/12/2010 12:00:00 AM

Joel Hirst: Colombia Should Extradite Makled to US -- Not Venezuela

November 12--Calling it "the first threat to the Chavez-Santos lovefest," US Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow Joel Hirst explains why it is important that captured alleged drug kingpin Walid Makled should be extradited from Colombia to the USA -- not Venezuela, which is also seeking his extradition -- and why that might not happen.

Last Wednesday night the Colombian television channel RCN ran an interview with Walid Makled Garcia Venezuela's most wanted drug "kingpin", from his holding cell in a maximum security prison in Boyaca, Colombia. Makled was arrested by Colombian authorities on Wednesday, August 18th in the border town of Cucuta. In the interview, Makled implicated high level officials, from both civilian and military branches of Hugo Chavez' government as being complicit in the drug trade. "...with what I have, with what I have, I have enough for them (the United States) to intervene Venezuela (...) immediately" Makled said. Makled has insisted that upon his extradition to the United States, he will reveal, "all he knows" about alleged drug activity by officials in the Chavez government.

Washington is very interested in the extradition of Makled. In May of 2009 the White House designated Makled as a "Significant Foreign Narcotics Trafficker" under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. On November 5, 2010 Makled was indicted by the USAttorney for the southern district of New York, for trafficking tons of cocaine into the United States. "Makled is behind bars awaiting extradition to the United States for his crimes..." said DEA agent Michele Leonhart.

Read more here.

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