Colombian Rebels Indicted by U.S. on Drug Charges

The largest drug trafficking indictment in United States history charges 50 leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — a rebel group known as FARC — with exporting more than $25 billion worth of cocaine to the U.S. and other countries. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said three of the top FARC leaders named in the indictment are in custody in Colombia, and that the U.S. has begun extradition proceedings.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The largest drug-trafficking indictment in U.S. history was announced yesterday by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The indictment charges 50 leaders of the revolutionary armed forces of Columbia, a rebel group known as FARC, with exporting more then $25 billion dollars worth of cocaine to the United States and other countries. The Attorney General described the group as dangerous narco-terrorists.

Attorney General ALBERTO GONZALES: We believe these men are responsible for not only manufacturing and exporting devastating amounts of cocaine, but enforcing their criminal regime with violence. For instance, the indictment alleges that farmers who did not comply with FARC rules were shot, stabbed, and even dismembered alive.

MONTAGNE: Attorney General Gonzales said three of the top FARC leaders named in the indictment are in custody in Columbia, and that the U.S. has begun extradition proceedings. The remaining 47 defendants are still at large, hiding, Gonzales said, in the remote reaches of Columbia, guarded by heavily armed loyalists. The indictment says the rebels used the profits from cocaine export to finance their fight to overthrow the Columbian government.

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