Venezuela has deported Colombian kingpin Daniel "El Loco" Barrera back to his home country where the government is preparing to extradite him to the United States, a move it may want to expedite to avoid Barrera exerting any criminal influence from jail.
Loco Barrera and Jorge Milton Cifuentes, an alleged Colombian drug trafficker captured last week in Venezuela, were deported along with three other suspected criminals to Colombia on November 14, reported El Tiempo.
Loco Barrera was arrested on September 18 in the Venezuelan town of San Cristobal, his capture heralded by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos as the most important in recent years.
According to El Tiempo, the process of extraditing Loco Barrera to the United States, where he was indicted in September 2011, has started, with the request ready to be submitted to Colombia’s Supreme Court for final approval.
Venezuelan Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol announced that since Loco Barrera’s detention, authorities in the country have seized goods belonging to the kingpin amounting to some $35 million. Among these were 16 apartments, 17 houses, 48 vehicles, an airplane and a boat.
Eleven other people have been detained so far in Venezuela for belonging to Barrera’s network, including a former beauty queen and Miss Venezuela contestant.
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Though the required paperwork is apparently ready to be filed to the Supreme Court, the process of extraditing Loco Barrera to the United States could well be a lengthy one as the government awaits approval.
It may be in the country’s best interests to fast-track the application. Rastrojos leader Diego Perez Henao, alias “Diego Rastrojo,” is still in jail in Colombia awaiting a decision on whether he will be sent to the United States, despite being deported to Colombia in July following his June capture in Venezuela. This enabled him to reportedly continue running the Rastrojos from his cell in Colombia, something which led authorities to transferred him to another prison.
Loco Barrera -- considered Colombia's modern day Pablo Escobar -- arguably exercises a great deal more power than Diego Rastrojo, meaning the likelihood of him doing similarly remains high. Should he be able to dictate criminal operations from his Colombian jail, this could have implications for his former stronghold in the country’s Eastern Plains, a major drug trafficking area that is currently in a state of flux after his arrest.