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Archive for Thursday, May 18, 2006

Reputed cocaine kingpin arrested

May 18, 2006

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— One of the world's most hunted drug traffickers - accused of shipping more than 70 tons of cocaine to the United States - has been arrested in Brazil as part of an international crackdown, officials said Wednesday.

Colombian-born Pablo Rayo Montano, who had been on the run for a decade, was captured Tuesday in Sao Paulo as part of an operation coordinated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and involving anti-drug police in eight other countries.

More than three dozen others were arrested during simultaneous raids in the United States and Latin America, U.S. and Colombian anti-drug officials said. Authorities also seized control of three islands off the coast of Panama, a trove of artwork, real estate holdings, yachts and millions in cash.

"The Rayo-Montano trafficking organization ranked up there with Pablo Escobar and the Cali Cartel in terms of the amount of cocaine it was able to smuggle into the United States," said Dave Gaddis, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Bogota.

Colombia-based Escobar was among the world's most notorious drug traffickers, ruling the illegal drug trade during the 1980s. He was killed in a shootout with police in 1993.

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