- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Reputed drug kingpin Alejandro Bernal-Madrigal was extradited from Columbia yesterday to face charges for his suspected role in shipping a ton of cocaine daily to the United States.
Bernal-Madrigal, also known as "Juvenal" or "Junior," was turned over to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Bogota, who escorted him to Miami. He had been arrested in October 1999 by Colombian authorities.
The DEA described the reputed drug kingpin as the "transportation coordinator" for top cocaine smugglers in Colombia and Mexico, saying he was responsible for multiton shipments of the drug from Colombia to Mexico for later shipment to the United States. Agents also said he smuggled large amounts of drug money to and from Mexico.
DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson said Bernal-Madrigal's extradition is "further evidence" of Colombia's "commitment to dismantle drug trafficking organizations based in their country." He is the 30th suspect extradited by Colombia since it resumed the legal process with the United States in 1997.
Bernal-Madrigal's arrest in 1999 came as part of a joint U.S.-Colombia raid known as Operation Millennium that shut down a massive cocaine trafficking ring and resulted in the arrest of 31 drug dealers, including reputed drug kingpin Fabio Ochoa Restrepo. The operation was described by the DEA at the time as the single largest blow to Colombian traffickers since the 1995 capture of the leaders of the infamous Cali cartel.
The DEA said the amount of cocaine the Colombian-based organizations headed by Bernal-Madrigal and Ochoa Restrepo moved into the United States each month was equivalent to 500 million doses, with a street value of $5 billion a month or $60 billion a year.
Bernal-Madrigal is charged with cocaine smuggling and money laundering. His indictment, handed up by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Miami, covers only crimes committed after Dec. 17, 1997, when Colombia agreed to extradite suspects to the United States after a 10-year hiatus. Ochoa-Restrepo continues to fight an extradition order but Colombia's Supreme Court approved a request last Wednesday from the United States to bring him to justice in this country. That approval has to be confirmed in the next two weeks by Colombian President Andres Pastrana.
If approved by Mr. Pastrana, Ochoa-Restrepo is entitled under Colombian law to a final appeal that must be decided within 10 additional days. Legal experts have said Ochoa-Restrepo is unlikely to avoid U.S. justice.
The arrests in Operation Millennium culminated a one-year probe designed to dismantle a Colombian-based smuggling ring believed responsible for supplying 30 tons of cocaine per month to the United States and Europe. It involved the unprecedented cooperative effort of the DEA, Colombian National Police, the Fiscalia General of the Republic of Colombia, the U.S. attorney's office in Miami, and the Justice Department's criminal division.
DEA agents and Colombian authorities arrested 14 persons in Bogota, one in Cali, and 15 in Medellin.

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