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Santos, Chávez, and a Venezuelan Kingpin

Author: Joel D. Hirst, International Affairs Fellow in Residence, 2010-2011
March 26, 2011
Fox News Latino

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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is facing perhaps the most difficult decision of his short presidency. Yesterday, the Colombian Supreme Court approved his formal request of November 17, 2010, seeking authority to proceed with the extradition of U.S.-designated drug kingpin, Venezuelan citizen, Walid Makled García “el Turco”.

Makled was arrested on August 19th, 2010 in the Colombian border town of Cúcuta by Colombian intelligence agents, where he was fleeing, after having a falling out with members of the Chávez regime. He is wanted on international arrest warrants for the crimes of drug trafficking and murder.

The problem now is where does Santos send Makled? Makled is wanted by a Federal Court in lower Manhattan for smuggling ten tons of cocaine into Mexico. He is also wanted in Venezuela for the murder of journalist Orel Zambrano. President Chávez of Venezuela has made his desire for Makled's extradition very public.

“...Over there is a bandit who is a Venezuelan drug trafficker and I am waiting, Nicolas [Maduro, Venezuela's Foreign Minister said], that the government of Colombia - like President Santos told me via telephone - he told me they were going to send him here...," said Chávez during a televised program.

"...And now he's [Makled] saying that he paid I don't know how many millions to a general and another (...) so all the more reason, Nicolas, we have to ask our brothers in Colombia that they send him back here," Chávez said.

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