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Colombian Assassins Slay Former Mayor of Medellin

From Associated Press

Gunmen today killed an anti-drug crusader who was a former mayor of Medellin, the heart of the nation’s cocaine industry and focus of most of the violence in the country’s narcotics war, police said.

At least two attackers dressed in black shot Pablo Pelaez Gonzalez as he was being driven to his office, where he operated a local company making tin cans, Medellin police said.

Pelaez’s driver was also killed, a police spokesman said.

Radio stations reporting from the scene of the shooting said the killers, apparently on foot, fired 9-millimeter automatic pistols at the ex-mayor’s BMW sedan, shed their black outer garments and fled.

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Pelaez, 45, a lawyer and former police inspector, was elected mayor of the city of 2 million, Colombia’s second largest, in 1984, on the Liberal Party ticket, the party of President Virgilio Barco Vargas. He left office in 1986.

He then founded a local group called “Love for Medellin,” aimed at eliminating drugs and crime. Last week, the 4th Army Brigade in Medellin announced the arrest of four suspected leaders of a cocaine-cartel “hit squad” that sarcastically called itself “Love for Medellin.”

Pelaez’s killing is the latest in a string of daily bombings and shootings in Medellin, where wealthy drug lords have focused efforts to terrorize Colombians since Barco on Aug. 18 announced an unprecedented government crackdown on traffickers.

Justice Minister Monica de Greiff, who left Colombia last month for the United States amid death threats from drug traffickers, returned to Colombia Sunday night and met today with Barco, her office said.

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The most-wanted cocaine chieftains remain at large.


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