November 6, 2015 / 11:21 PM / in 4 years

Former Colombian paramilitary leader sentenced in U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former Colombia paramilitary leader was sentenced to 16 1/2 years in prison on Friday for conspiring to import and distribute tons of cocaine into the United States, the Justice Department said.

Rodrigo Tovar-Pupo, known as “Jorge 40,” pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, knowing it would be taken into the United States in July 2009, the department said in a statement

Tovar-Pupo, 54, formerly of Barranquilla, Colombia, was arrested in Colombia and extradited to the United States in 2008 with 13 others.

Tovar-Pupo was a leader in the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, Justice said. The paramilitaries were responsible for some of the most atrocious human rights violations in Colombia between 1985 and 2002 after forming to defend landowners and business leaders against attacks by leftist rebels.

“Rodrigo Tovar-Pupo funded his violent and dangerous paramilitary organization by reaping the profits of manufacturing and shipping thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “His actions did untold damage to the United States and Colombia.”

The Justice Department said his conviction on American drug trafficking laws does not take into account any possible violations of Colombian human rights laws, which will be addressed through a judicial process in that country.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bill Trott

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