He likes to be called Cesar. He’s a prominent member of the leftist ultra-violent Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, otherwise known as FARC, the number one manufacturer of cocaine in the world. A former “comandante” of the 1st Front of FARC, Gerardo Aguilar Ramirez has been extradited to the United States on “cocaine importation conspiracy charges” the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports.
Ramirez was arrested on July 2, 2008 during a high-profile hostage rescue mission. At the time of his capture Ramirez was holding 15 hostages including anti-corruption activist and former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who had been held captive for more than six years. Three Americans were also being held by FARC.
While in command of the hostages Ramirez tried to barter their release for the liberation of FARC terrorists held in the U.S. and Columbia, as well as other political and safety demands. None were accepted, and eventually, thanks to Operation Jaque, Ramirez was arrested and the hostages freed.
His extradition to Washington comes after an indictment filed by the United States against 50 of the highest-ranking FARC members. The file, released by the DEA, accuses Ramirez of leading the 1st Front of FARC and as such, being responsible for all criminal acts it carried out.
The acts include manufacturing and distributing thousands of tons of cocaine with the knowledge that they would enter the U.S. drug market, as well as plotting with other FARC members to kidnap and kill U.S. citizens to discourage the United States from fumigating and disturbing FARC’s cocaine plants and distribution efforts.
Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin reiterated the United States’ commitment to fighting narco-terrorism. “We are committed, together with Colombian authorities and United States law enforcement agencies, to attacking FARC’s criminal leadership. The extradition of Aguilar Ramirez, alleged to be a high-level FARC commander, is another milestone in this office’s fight against narco-terrorism worldwide” he said, the DEA reports.
Ramirez, 50, is also charged with four counts of hostage taking for the kidnapping of Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes, Keith Stensell and Tom Janis after their plane crashed in FARC-occupied jungle territory in early 2003.
Janis was executed while the rest were held captive with Betancourt and 11 others until their release in the summer of 2008.
Ramirez will be tried in Washington D.C. federal court scheduled to begin on Jan. 5, 2010. The DEA reports that Special Assistant Attorneys from the Southern District of New York will be prosecuting the case in D.C.
The State Department is also offering $75 million in rewards for any information that leads to the capture of high-ranking FARC members.
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