The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) predicts at least four heads of Colombia’s most powerful drug cartels will be extradited to the United States within three months, according to newspaper El Tiempo.
The Colombian publication announced that key players in Colombia’s criminal underworld such as Javier Calle Serna, alias “Comba,” top leader of drug gang Los Rastrojos, are expected to turn themselves over to the DEA looking for reduced sentences.
On Wednesday, Several Colombian and Spanish news sources reported Wednesday that Comba already surrendered to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration after over a year of negotiations with the U.S. government, though crime analysis website InSight Crime later published information suggesting the reports were false.
El Tiempo’s article on the case contradicted these accounts, claiming sources close to Comba say the cartel leader plans to surrender this May.
While it has yet to be determined if Comba is in custody, it has been confirmed that he is currently in negotiations with U.S. authorities.
Diego Perez Henao, “Diego Rastrojo,” head of security for the Rastrojos is another important actor that has shown interest in complying but is reportedly waiting for results from the “Comba” case before surrendering.
The DEA also allegedly expects Henry de Jesus Lopez, alias “Mi Sangre,” a key member of the “Urabeños” neo-paramilitary group, and Daniel Barrera, alias “El Loco,” one of the largest drug traffickers in Colombia, to give themselves over to the U.S. in coming months.
Two lawyers reportedly responsible for managing most of these negotiations charge between $600,000 and $1.2 million, depending on the importance of the client, according to a federal agent interviewed by El Tiempo.
For this amount they guarantee sentences less than six years, visas for family members and a return ticket to Colombia. Given these conditions, there are increasingly more drug traffickers interested in extradition, reported the agent.
Colombian authorities said that this week there were about 12 lawyers from the U.S. in the country offering reduced sentences to prominent drug traffickers, according to El Tiempo.
Justice Minister Juan Carlos Esguerra has criticized this practice saying that Colombian prisoners extradited to the U.S. are often given sentences that are “too short.”
Colombian officials fear that surrendering to U.S. authorities has become a legal alternative for local drug lords to clean their records and return to the country to re-offend.