Colombia Drug Suspect Being Flown to U.S.

From Times Wire Services

Eduardo Martinez Romero, described as the "finance minister" of Colombia's Medellin cocaine cartel, was flown out of Colombia on Wednesday night by U.S. officials, bound for the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration disclosed.

DEA spokesman Frank Shults said: "He's in the air; coming into the United States sometime in the early morning."

Martinez was flown out of Bogota on a DEA plane, Shults said, but he did not say where the plane would land.

Martinez was arrested Aug. 20 after Colombian President Virgilio Barco Vargas launched a crackdown on drug traffickers triggered by the Aug. 18 assassination of leading presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan.

Among the emergency measures imposed by Barco was a reinstitution of the extradition agreement with the United States that had been thrown out by the Colombian Supreme Court in 1987.

In other developments, two American journalists were among four people injured when a bomb exploded at a restaurant in Medellin, police said Wednesday.

No one claimed responsibility for the blast Tuesday night.

Reporter Bernadette Pardo, 35, and cameraman Carlos Corrales, 31, who work for the Miami-based Spanish-language station WLTV and for the Spanish-language network Univision, were wounded in the bombing of La Bella Epoca restaurant, police said. Both are U.S. citizens. Pardo suffered a broken collarbone and Corrales sustained slight wounds.

Also injured were Jorge Saenz, an independent Colombian reporter and documentary film maker, and his wife, Angela.

Restaurant employee Javier Tirado said a man and woman who had eaten at the restaurant earlier apparently planted the bomb.

Meanwhile, Colombian Communications Minister and acting Justice Minister Carlos Lemos Simondes said his country's cocaine cartels can be put out of business only by curbing demand for the drug in the United States.

"If consumption is not reduced in the United States, the world will never be able to effectively combat narcotics trafficking," said Simondes, filling in for Justice Minister Monica de Greiff, who was in Washington for drug war strategy talks.

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