Colombian charged with smuggling tons of cocaine

A reputed major cocaine trafficker who allegedly threatened to kill
U.S. law enforcement officials has been brought from Colombia to the
United States to face charges.

Carlos Patiño Restrepo was flown to the United States and arrived in
an armored car for his arraignment Thursday in U.S. District Court in
Central Islip.

Patiño Restrepo, 44, is accused of bringing tons
of cocaine into the United States beginning in the 1990s, according to
court documents, Newsday reported. He is charged with conspiracy to
possess and import cocaine into the country, with intent to distribute.

He
pleaded not guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert, who
ordered him held without bail as a flight risk and a danger to the
community.

Patiño Restrepo’s New York attorney, Todd Merer,
denied that his client had threatened to kill the previous prosecutor
and agent on the case, telling Newsday the charges were based on the
fraudulent testimony of two or three Colombians.

In Colombia,
authorities considered Patiño Restrepo an accomplice of top cocaine
lord Wilber Varela, who was on the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration’s list of most wanted fugitives, with a $5 million
reward for his arrest. Varela was found shot to death earlier this year
in Venezuela.

The cartel would deliver the cocaine to the
Colombian port of Buenaventura, where Mexican transporters loaded it on
boats and planes to the United States, according to the U.S. Justice
Department.

Patiño Restrepo was arrested last year in Colombia, and authorities there approved his extradition to the United States. (AP)

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