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Colombian Drug Lord Pleads Guilty to Racketeering

A Colombian drug lord on trial in the United States pleaded guilty Friday to racketeering charges.

The U.S. Justice Department says Luis Hernando Gomez Bustamente, also known as "Rasguno," admitted he was a leader of the Norte Valle cartel.

U.S. authorities accuse the group of engaging in drug trafficking, money laundering, bribery, murder, and working with a terrorist organization.

At the U.S. District Court in Washington, Gomez also pleaded guilty to conspiring to make or distribute more than 10,000 kilograms of cocaine to be imported into the United States.

U.S. authorities say the Norte Valle drug ring has trafficked more than $10 billion worth of cocaine 500,000 kilograms into the country since 1990.

They say the cartel relied on a U.S.-designated terrorist group, the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia), for protection.

Gomez already faces a minimum 10-year prison sentence for separate drug-trafficking offenses. He pleaded guilty to those charges in June at a federal court in New York.

Gomez was arrested in Cuba in 2004 after two years as a fugitive. In 2007, he was deported to Colombia and extradited to the United States.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.