The State Department expressed “great disappointment” Wednesday that extradition legislation approved by Colombia’s Congress does not apply to drug kingpins already in Colombian jails.
Spokesman James Foley also said the move will influence the State Department’s decision, due in March, on whether to lift economic sanctions against Colombia.
Colombia has been under sanctions since March 1996 because of Clinton administration contentions that the country is not cooperating fully with U.S. efforts to combat drug trafficking.
By a 144-15 vote late Tuesday, the lower house of Colombia’s Congress cleared the way for extradition of Colombian citizens - but only for future crimes.
That means Cali cocaine cartel kingpins jailed in a crackdown two years ago probably will not face U.S. jail time for crimes committed while building their drug empire. Among the Cali chieftains most wanted by Washington are Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela.
While calling the bill a modest step forward, Foley said it is regrettable that Colombian lawmakers failed to pass an unrestricted bill.