Key Cocaine Cartel Member Killed by Colombia Police During Raid

From Associated Press

Police shot and killed a key member of the violent Medellin cocaine cartel Saturday in a gun battle in one of Medellin's exclusive neighborhoods, police said.

Gustavo de Jesus Gaviria, the cousin of the cartel's leader, Pablo Escobar, was killed in a battle with a police unit that was raiding one of the organization's luxury apartments in the Alaneda neighborhood in southern Medellin, according to a police statement.

Authorities identified Gaviria as the third-most important member of the cartel.

The police statement did not give details about how police located Gaviria in the apartment, which was equipped with bullet-resistant windows.

Medellin's police chief, Col. Jorge Ferrerro, said late Saturday in a radio interview that more details would not be issued for several hours.

Gaviria was the main partner of Escobar, the Medellin cartel leader blamed for a terrorist campaign of bombs and other attacks that have killed hundreds of people over the past year.

Police say Gaviria acted as his cousin's front man in several business transactions and that several of Escobar's properties are registered in Gaviria's name.

Gaviria was wanted for extradition to the United States on drug trafficking charges.

The Medellin cartel last month called a truce in its terrorist campaign, saying it was yielding to Colombia's desire for peace. The cartel said in a communique that the government should respond to the peace overture by ending its policy of extraditing drug traffickers to the United States.

Colombian President Cesar Gaviria said after taking office last week that both extraditions and the crackdown on traffickers would continue.

All Medellin police officers were ordered to their posts late Saturday because of fears that the cartel may call off the truce following Gaviria's death.

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