Colombia will extradite alleged drug lord Walid Makled to Venezuela and not to the United States, which had also requested the extradition, President Santos announced on Wednesday.
In an interview with news network Univision, Santos said “I promised [Venezuelan] President [Hugo] Chavez that if the law said this man should be extradited to Venezuela, I would extradite him to Venezuela. Moreover, at this moment I am asking Venezuela [to extradite] two big drug lords.”
Colombia’s Supreme Court authorized Makled’s extradition on March 25 but a decision over the extradition destination has been pending Santos’ final decision on the matter.
Interior and Justice Minister German Vargas Lleras is consulting with the ministry’s judicial advisers about how the extradtion will be conducted, added Santos.
According to Colombian radio station Caracol, the Colombian government prefers to extradite Makled to Venezuela because it was the first to request extradition and because of the seriousness of the charges in that country compared to the charges against the Venezuelan in the U.S.
The extradition will be approved before April 15, the radio station added.
Makled is accused by the DEA of cooperating with the FARC to distribute cocaine to the United States and has admitted himself to having connections with Venezuela’s political and military elite. He says he will only divulge information on these connections to U.S. investigators if he is extradited to the United States.
He is wanted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges and in his home country for drugs and the murder of a journalist and a Colombian narco-trafficker.