Colombia’s justice minister said Tuesday he has “no knowledge” of a U.S. extradition request for the niece of former President Alvaro Uribe, accused of working for the world’s most wanted drug lord, Joaquin Guzman, alias “El Chapo,” head of Mexico’s notorious Sinaloa Cartel.
An extradition request for Ana Maria Uribe Cifuentes, as well as her mother, the ex-President’s sister-in-law, Dolly Cifuentes Villa, was first reported on Saturday. Both women are suspected of being part of the Cifuentes Villa clan, responsible for trafficking over 30 tons of cocaine into the U.S. between 2009 and 2011, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“I know about the extradition of Mrs. Dolly Cifuentes. I don’t know of Ana Maria Uribe. I have no knowledge of an application relating to it and its process(…) Maybe it exists but I don’t know about it,” said Justice Minister Juan Carlos Esguerra.
Cifuentes and her daughter were arrested in 2010 by Colombian police at the request of U.S. authorities. Ana Maria was prohibited from conducting business within U.S. borders or with American citizens in 2011 as part of the “Kingpin Act,” which sought to “deny significant foreign narcotics traffickers” from accessing “the U.S. financial system,” according to a White House release.
According to the justice minister, Dolly Cifuentes is expected to be extradited to the U.S. in the coming days, although the two suspects have reportedly disappeared from court records and authorities were unable to pinpoint the pair’s whereabouts.
The 48-year-old Dolly Cifuentes was the significant other of Uribe’s younger brother, Jaime Alberto Uribe, who died in 2001. The 31-year-old Ana Maria Uribe is the daughter of Cifuentes and the former President’s brother.
Jaime Uribe was alleged to have a relationship with Pablo Escobar, the late drug kingpin who controlled the majority of Colombia’s cocaine supply throughout the 1980s and early 90s. According to research center Nuevo Arco Iris and colomnist Daniel Coronell, Jaime Uribe was interrogated by military forces in 1986 after it was discovered he had made several phone calls to Escobar. The case never made it to courts.
Former President Uribe denied the posthumous allegations against his brother Sunday, claiming that criminals cloned Jaime Uribe’s car phone for their own use. He also denied any knowledge of his brother’s relationship with Cifuentes or the existence of his niece, despite a birth certificate that was uncovered proving Jaime Uribe was her father.
“My brother Jaime died in 2001, married to Astrid Velez, they had two children(…) Any other romantic relationship that my brother may have had was part of his personal life and is unknown to me,” he tweeted Sunday.
The Uribe family has long faced accusations of ties to drug trafficking. According to 1991 U.S. military intelligence files, Alvaro Uribe was a “close friend” of Pablo Escobar, who according to Colombian newspaper archives lent Uribe one of his helicopters in 1983 when his father was killed and his brother Santiago was injured by FARC guerrillas. The same report alleged that Uribe’s father was murdered for his ties to drug trafficking organizations, although a U.S. intelligence report released in 2003 said the intelligence lacked “credible information.”
Santiago Uribe is facing a criminal investigation for the alleged founding and leading of a paramilitary group while Uribe’s cousin Mario was convicted for his ties to the paramilitary organization, the AUC. The former President has on several occasions been accused of having had ties to this neo-paramilitary group. Uribe has categorically denied ties to drug trafficking or paramilitary organizations.