Colombia has extradited the head of Colombia's most powerful drug cartel to face trafficking and murder charges in the United States.
U.S. officials say an FBI airplane brought the head of the North Valley drug cartel Diego Montoya to Miami on Friday. Montoya had been on the FBI's 10 most wanted list, until his capture by Colombian police more than a year ago.
He is expected to appear in court Monday, where he faces charges that include cocaine trafficking, money laundering, and murdering potential witnesses against his organization.
The U.S. attorney in Miami, Alex Acosta, said Montoya's cartel is responsible for smuggling more than $10 billion in cocaine into the United States.
"And as charged in this indictment, it has routinely used murders, kidnappings and brute force to conduct its drug business," he said.
Acosta says the combined efforts of U.S. and Colombian police and anti-drug agents have dealt a serious blow to the North Valley cartel in recent years. The current U.S. case involves several other cartel leaders, including one of Montoya's brothers who was extradited earlier this year. In an earlier case, another brother and a cousin pleaded guilty to trafficking and money laundering charges.
U.S. attorney Acosta said the cases against North Valley leaders is not the end of the anti-drug fight. "I do think we are seeing a splintering, and a dismantling of the cartel. But I think it would be premature to declare victory, because I'm certain others are stepping in to fill the void," he said.
Montoya faces at least 20 years in jail if convicted of the charges against him. U.S. authorities also have seized condos belonging to Montoya in Miami, and say they are seeking the forfeiture of $1 billion in cash.