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Feds Nab Big Fish in Violent Colombian Cartel

Authorities nabbed a major fish in the drug war. The question is: Will it have any impact on cocaine traffic in the U.S.?

By CURT ANDERSON
AP Legal Affairs Writer
MIAMI — The reputed kingpin of a violent Colombian cartel blamed for smuggling cocaine worth $10 billion to the U.S. was flown aboard an FBI plane to Miami on Friday to face a 12-count federal indictment.
Diego “Don Diego” Montoya, described as the notorious head of the North Valley Cartel, could spend at least 20 years in prison if convicted on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering, obstruction of justice and witness retaliation by murder.
Montoya, who did not yet have a U.S. lawyer following his extradition, was being held without bail awaiting an initial court appearance Monday.
Under Montoya’s leadership, the North Valley Cartel in the mid-1990s become Colombia’s dominant cocaine smuggling organization, taking over from the Cali cartel whose leaders also were prosecuted in Miami. At its height, North Valley controlled about 60 percent of Colombia’s cocaine trade, authorities said.
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