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Colombia Hands Over 2 Murder Suspects to US - 2002-10-28


Colombia has handed over to the United States two suspects wanted for the murder of an American oil worker in Ecuador. More suspects are still wanted in connection with a series of kidnappings of foreign oil workers in the region.

In all, eight Colombians are wanted in connection with the violent kidnapping of five American oil workers and the death of one of them Ronald Clay Sander, 54, of Missouri. He was kidnapped in Ecuador in 2000 and later killed by his captors after his employer refused to pay the demanded $80 million ransom. Others taken hostage with him were later set free after a reported $13 million ransom was paid.

The eight Colombians charged in a federal indictment unsealed Monday are accused of conspiring to commit hostage taking in order to extort American companies. "This group and their co-conspirators targeted locations where U.S. nationals and other foreign nationals worked and traveled," said Roscoe Howard, U.S. attorney for Washingon, D.C. "They conducted surveillance on them, attacked them using deadly force and marched them into the jungles of Ecuador where they were bound and threatened at gunpoint for months until large ransoms were eventually paid."

Two suspects named in the indictment are now in U.S. custody in what prosecutors say marks the first time the Colombian government has handed over anyone wanted in the United States on a non-drug related crime. Three others are in Colombian custody, two are fugitives. Prosecutors would not comment on the whereabouts of another suspect.

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