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Colombian ex-militia head pleads not guilty to US drug trafficking charges

[JURIST] Former Colombian militia leader Salvatore Mancuso pleaded not guilty in a Florida court Thursday to drug trafficking charges after being extradited [JURIST report] to the US Tuesday on suspicion of organizing violent massacres and drug smuggling operations. Mancuso and 13 other men are suspected of being members of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia [BBC backgrounder], which is designated as a terrorist group by the US. The guerrilla leaders had surrendered to Colombian authorities under a peace deal in which Colombian President Alvaro Uribe [official profile, in Spanish; BBC profile] suspended warrants for their extradition, but Justice Minister Carlos Holguin [official profile, in Spanish] told local radio that the leaders had broken the deal by continuing to organize gangs or by refusing to cooperate with government officials. AP has more.

In April, a Colombian court temporarily blocked [JURIST report] the extradition of one such leader, Carlos Mario Jimenez-Naranjo, ruling that it would deny the victims of his crime the chance to seek compensation. Despite the ruling, Jimenez-Naranjo was extradited [DOJ release] to the US earlier this month, where he could face up to life in prison if convicted.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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