the washington post

U.S. Criticized for Extraditing Minor Colombian Drug Suspects

Jul 31--In his seven years as president, Álvaro Uribe has complied with hundreds of U.S. extradition requests, furnishing the American justice system with cocaine kingpins like Gilberto the "Chess Player" Rodríguez, once head of the powerful Cali cartel, and "Don Diego" Montoya, who had his own private army.

Then there's the Consuegras -- a father and son known simply as "the banana vendors."

In June 2005, as the pace of extraditions was picking up, anti-drug agents arrived at the Consuegras' tiny home in a derelict barrio, and the two men, operators of a small banana-selling business, were extradited to New York. But unlike the Colombian drug suspects who are shipped north and receive long prison terms, the Consuegras spent just a few months in a city lockup, signed an affidavit admitting guilt as part of a plea deal and shortly thereafter were sent home.

The case left Michael Young, a court-appointed attorney for the younger Consuegra, wondering why U.S. officials went to the trouble and expense in the first place. "I'm thinking to myself, 'Why are they bringing this guy up here?' " Young said. "Even by domestic standards, this was a very, very small case to be in the federal courts."

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