MIAMI (AP) -- Alleged drug kingpin Fabio Ochoa arrived in Miami early Saturday to face prosecution on charges he belonged to a gang that sent 30 tons of cocaine a month to the United States, a federal official said.
Ochoa, a former top leader of the notorious Medellin cartel, was being held at the federal detention center in Miami and will face a judge at the U.S. Magistrate Court next week, Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Joe Kilmer said Saturday.
The handover is seen as a victory for U.S. officials who have long sought the extradition of Colombian drug lords who are flooding the United States with cocaine and heroin. Ochoa becomes the highest-profile Colombian sent to justice in the United States since Colombia revived extraditions in 1997.
Ochoa was put on a DEA plane in Bogota, Colombia, late Friday after a Colombian judge lifted an order suspending the handover.
Ochoa's extradition comes four days before Secretary of State Colin Powell is to visit Bogota. President Andres Pastrana, who signed Ochoa's extradition papers last month, was kidnapped by the Medellin cartel in 1988 when he was running for mayor of Bogota.
Ochoa's family fought bitterly to stop his being sent to stand trial in the United States.
"Justice did not triumph, and all Colombians have lost," Martha Nieves Ochoa, Fabio Ochoa's sister, told reporters from the family's home in Medellin.
In Washington, the State Department warned Americans in Colombia to take extra security precautions following Ochoa's extradition.
In a statement released Friday night, the department noted "the past history of narcotics traffickers conducting bombings in public areas as a reprisal for or deterrent to extradition."
In 1990, Ochoa was the first major Colombian trafficker to surrender in return for a promise that he would not be extradited. But U.S. prosecutors say Ochoa resumed trafficking cocaine after leaving a Colombian jail in 1996.
Ochoa was arrested in October 1999 along with dozens of other suspected traffickers.
Carlos Lehder, delivered to U.S. authorities in 1987, was the last major cartel figure to be extradited. He was sentenced in Jacksonville to life without parole, plus 135 years.
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