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Washington Prado Álava: Colombia extradites top drug suspect to US

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    In this file photo taken on April 11, 2017 Colombian Police officers escort Ecuadorean Washington Prado Alava aka "Gerald" (C), during a press conference at the police headquarters in Bogota, Colombia.Image copyright AFP
    Image caption Prado Álava was arrested in Colombia in April 2017

    A man accused of smuggling more than 250 tonnes of cocaine over the past decade has been extradited to the US from Colombia.

    Prosecutors say Washington Prado Álava, an Ecuadorean national, was a drug lord with operations across the Americas.

    He is also accused of ordering the murders of judges, prosecutors and police officers in Ecuador.

    Mr Prado Álava was known in Colombia as Ecuador’s Pablo Escobar, the infamous Medellín Cartel leader killed in 1993.

    In Colombia, he tried to join the ranks of the Farc leftist rebel group before it signed a peace agreement in 2016.

    The Colombian prosecutors say his intention was to take advantage of a transitional justice system, which was agreed between the government and the Farc to deal with crimes committed by the rebels during five decades of conflict.

    “Washington Prado Álava is considered one of the biggest capos [bosses] in recent years and became a top target for the United States,” the prosecutors said in a statement.

    Mr Prado Álava allegedly operated in Ecuador and on Colombia’s Pacific coast.

    Prosecutors said his fleet of speedboats was used to make regular cocaine deliveries to Central America and Mexico, and, from there, the drugs were shipped over the border into the US.

    Mr Prado Álava was arrested in April 2017 as he travelled to visit family in the Colombian city of Cali.

    The US Drug Enforcement Agency provided the Colombian authorities with key intelligence that led to his arrest and that of three other alleged gang members.

    On Saturday, he was taken from a prison where he was being held in the capital, Bogotá, and put on a plane to face justice in the US.

    Fifty agents took part in the extradition operation, Colombian authorities said.

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