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Colombian Drug Kingpin Arrested

After eluding authorities for more than 15 years, a co-founder of Colombia’s Cali cocaine cartel was arrested almost accidentally this week as he dined in a Bogota barbecue restaurant.

With his arrest, Colombian officials now have in custody the two men considered the driving forces behind the cartel as it came to dominate the U.S. cocaine market in the 1980s.

Jose Santacruz Londono, described as one of the cartel’s most ruthless leaders, also is believed to have ordered at least three murders in the United States as well as the car bombing of a former high-ranking Colombian official. An innocent bystander also was killed in one of the murders, executed by a cartel-hired hit man.

Already facing four drug-related indictments in this country, Santacruz allegedly controlled virtually the entire supply of cocaine to the state of New York, administrator Thomas A. Constantine of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said. Santacruz’s alleged drug profits had made him one of the wealthiest Cali traffickers, with vast real-estate holdings in Cali and millions of dollars in European bank accounts.