Venezuela hands suspected Colombia drug lord to US

MAIQUETIA, Venezuela, (Reuters) – Venezuela handed  over to U.S. officials yesterday Carlos “Beto” Renteria, one  of the world’s most wanted alleged cocaine smugglers, after its  soldiers arrested him with help from British agents.

The United States had offered a $5 million reward for  information leading to the capture of Renteria, the last free  leader of Colombia’s top drug gang, the Norte del Valle cartel.

The U.S. government called the extradition “valuable and  positive.”

A 2004 U.S. indictment accused the cartel of exporting 500  tonnes of cocaine to the United States in the 1990s but it has  been weakened with the arrest or death of all its top “capos”.

A scruffily dressed and weak-looking Renteria, who may have undergone plastic surgery to change his appearance, was  escorted by heavily armed police in body armor and delivered to a waiting U.S. plane at Venezuela’s main airport near Caracas.

Apparently to hide his face, he kept his head down, showing  wispy gray hair, as he shuffled to the U.S. plane. Also  extradited were fellow drug suspects, Carlos Alberto Ojeda and  Luis Frank Tello, who yelled in protest as they were led away.

“Like never before, we have hit mafias and criminal  organizations dedicated to illegal drug trafficking,” said  Venezuelan Interior Minister Tarek al Aissami. “We are next to  the main producer of drugs in the world (Colombia), and next to  the world’s top consumer — the United States.”

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