NEW YORK— Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, considered by U.S. authorities to be a major figure in the illegal international drug trade, was arraigned Wednesday in Federal Court in New York.
Colombian Daniel Barrera was led into court with his lawyer, Ruben Oliva, at his side.
Wearing an athletic shirt, the man they call "El Loco" put on his headset for the Spanish translation of the proceedings. He listened as the U.S. government charged him with leading a drug organization that produced hundreds of tons of cocaine and funneled the revenue to terrorist organizations. He pleaded not guilty.
After the hearing, Oliva had a brief comment on the charges.
“These are very serious charges. He is being accused of very serious crimes," said Oliva.
The U.S. government charges the 44-year-old Barrera reaped tens of million dollars from cocaine trafficking, which he laundered through illicit means.
Barrera was living in Venezuela when he was arrested by authorities, turned over to Colombian law enforcement, and later extradited to the United States. All three countries were involved in the complex drug bust.
“He was arrested in Venezuela because he had charges both in Colombia and the United States," Oliva said.
U.S. authorities called "El Loco" evil. They say Barrera's extradition marks the fall of the last kingpin of a drug organization with worldwide reach. Judge Alvin Hellerman set the next hearing date for early September.
Barrera is being held without bail.