BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — An alleged major Colombian drug trafficker whose paramilitary organization controls coastal and border smuggling routes surrendered to U.S. drug agents in Aruba and was flown to New York, where he faces criminal charges, Colombian authorities said Monday.
Jose Antonio Calle was indicted in New York's Eastern District last year for the alleged international distribution of 25 metric tons of cocaine, money laundering, racketeering and murder, according to a news release the local U.S. attorney's office issued at the time.
The U.S. government had a $5 million reward out for Calle, who deputy Colombian police director Gen. Jose Roberto Leon said turned himself in U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents on Friday in Aruba, off the Caribbean coast of Colombia and Venezuela.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney in New York's Eastern District, Robert Nardoza, said he could neither confirm nor deny Leon's statement that Calle was flown to New York. Nor would Nardoza discuss why the indictment was not available in the U.S. federal court system's online electronic database. The DEA also declined comment.
The 43-year-old Calle allegedly heads a violent cocaine-trafficking paramilitary force called "Los Rastrojos," or The Leftovers.
His brother and alleged accomplice, Juan Carlos Calle, was captured in Ecuador in March and sent to the United States. A $5 million reward had also been offered for him by the U.S. State Department.
The Rastrojos emerged roughly a decade ago from the dissolution of Colombia's Norte del Valle cartel, and allegedly shipped tons of cocaine northward through Mexico.
The brothers, originally hired guns for Norte del Valle bosses, gained the nickname the "Comba," short for combatants, as their criminal gang expanded its influence over drug-trafficking routes, corrupting local officials and battling a rival offshoot of the cartel called the "Urabenos."