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US Indicts Colombian Rebel Leaders

The United States is charging 50 members of Colombia's largest rebel group with using the proceeds from the sale of $25 billion worth of cocaine to finance their anti-government operations at home.

The indictment targets 50 members of Colombia's main leftist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

The FARC has been fighting the Colombian government for more than 40 years and has been branded a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.

The indictment was made public in a federal court in Washington and announced at a news conference by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

"This is the largest narcotics-trafficking indictment ever filed in U.S. history and fuels our hope to reduce narco-violence in Colombia and stem the tide of illegal drugs entering our country," Gonzales said.

According to the indictment, the FARC provides more than half of the world's cocaine and is responsible for 60 percent of the drug that enters the United States.

U.S. officials allege that the group uses the proceeds from $25 billion worth of drug sales around the world to buy weapons in its fight against the Colombian government.

"We believe these men are responsible for not only manufacturing and exporting devastating amounts of cocaine, but enforcing their criminal regime with violence. For instance, the indictment alleges that farmers who did not comply with FARC rules were shot, stabbed and even dismembered alive," Gonzales said.

Gonzales says three FARC members are in custody in Colombia and that the United States will seek their extradition. He says the other 47 remain at large, probably in FARC jungle strongholds inside Colombia.