HomeNewsBriefColombian Gang Leader Fights Extradition, Claiming 'Political Persecution'
BRIEF

Colombian Gang Leader Fights Extradition, Claiming 'Political Persecution'

EXTRADITION / 14 NOV 2012 BY CLAIRE O NEILL MCCLESKEY EN

Urabeños leader Henry de Jesus Lopez Londoño, alias "Mi Sangre," is fighting extradition to the United States, claiming that he is the victim of political persecution on the part of Colombian officials.

The kingpin said he was facing "political persecution" from former government officials and police, and that he fears for his life, reported EFE.

At a hearing on November 13 in Buenos Aires, where Mi Sangre was arrested on October 30, his lawyer, Carlos Olita, claimed that his client had proof that Colombian officials fabricated evidence against him.

Mi Sangre claims to be innocent of the charges placed against him both in Colombia and the United States, stating in a recent interview with an Argentine newspaper that he has never been involved in drug trafficking. According to Caracol Radio, Mi Sangre has argued that he was in Argentina to seek refuge from a group of police officers who have been persecuting him since 2005.

Insight Crime Analysis

Mi Sangre's claims of innocence -- he said that he had never moved "even a single gram of cocaine" -- are belied by his long and well-documented criminal history. The capo started out working for the Oficina de Envigado, Medellin's main mafia network, before joining paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Following the AUC's demobilization, Mi Sangre, like many of his fellow paramilitaries, joined the Urabeños, which is based on Colombia's Caribbean coast. Mi Sangre rose through the group's ranks, becoming one of the Urabeños' top leaders after the death of the group's military commander, Juan de Dios Usuga, alias "Giovanni," in January 2012. 

[Read InSight Crime's profile of Mi Sangre]

Until his arrest in Buenos Aires last month, Mi Sangre was infamous for his ability to evade justice. Colombia did not issue a warrant for his arrest until March 2012, despite the fact that Mi Sangre had been a powerful force in the criminal underworld for over a decade.

Mi Sangre's capture required cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence agencies from various countries, including Interpol, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Colombia's judicial police, and Argentine intelligence.

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