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Police capture alleged leader of Colombia drug cartel

Sat., July 16, 2005, midnight

BOGOTA, Colombia – Police captured a suspected leader of a drug cartel believed to have trafficked half the cocaine sold in the United States in the 1990s, officials said Friday.

Commandos acting on a tip seized Jose Aldemar Rendon as he was jogging Thursday outside Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city some 155 miles northwest of the capital, said police Col. Jaime Gutierrez.

“It’s an extremely important blow to the cartel because this man was in charge of sending the cocaine to the United States and is also an expert in the management of enormous sums of money,” Gutierrez said.

Rendon, accused of being a leader of the Norte del Valle cartel, was on a list of alleged cocaine kingpins sought by U.S. authorities under a court order handed down in New York. The U.S. government offered up to $5 million reward for his capture.

Gutierrez said reward money will be paid to an informer who helped authorities track down Rendon.

In its heyday in the late 1990s, the Norte del Valle cartel trafficked about half of the cocaine sold in the United States, officials have said. The U.S. government says the cartel exported $10 billion worth of cocaine over the past 15 years.


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