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Colombia Extradites Two Police Officers to US on Drug Smuggling Charges

Two Colombian police officers have been extradited to the United States on charges of helping to smuggle more than $50 million worth of cocaine into the U.S. on cargo flights.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Thursday announced the extradition of Leonidas Molina Triana, a former major in Colombia's national police, and Humberto Avila, an active patrolman at Bogota's El Dorado airport.

The indictment alleges that Molina-Triana was one of a number of corrupt officials who helped Colombia's Norte del Valle drug cartel recruit workers at Avianca Airlines, and police at El Dorado airport, to ship cocaine on commercial aircraft.

Authorities say the two men conspired to facilitate cocaine shipments through the airport to Mexico en route to the United States. If convicted, they could face a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.

The United States, however, has assured Colombia it will not seek life sentences for defendants extradited from the South American country.

The DEA says the investigation, known as "Operation Caso Dorado," involved law enforcement authorities from the United States, Colombia and Mexico.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.