The following are brief biographies of principle Colombian cocaine traffickers wanted by the United States:
-PABLO ESCOBAR GAVIRIA, 39, allegedly began his criminal career robbing tombstones in the 1960s. He went on to car theft and kidnapping, according to Colombian police records.
In the mid-1970s, Escobar decided that cocaine was the growth market of the future. He bought a kilo in Medellin and took it to the United States for sale. In 1976, he was arrested for possession of six kilos of cocaine in Medellin but avoided prosecution by intimidating the judge and ordering the killing of two arresting officers.
In the early 1980s, together with Carlos Lehder (curently serving a life sentence in Marion, Ill., federal prison on a number of smuggling convictions) and Jorge Luis Ochoa, Escobar banded together indepedent smugglers into a loose-knit cartel and pioneered the shipment of major quantities, mainly by air, to the United States.
Escobar has been on the Forbes Magazine billionaire list for the last five years. He was accused of mass murder in Colombia and indicted for smuggling conspiracies in several U.S. cities.
-THE OCHOA BROTHERS: Jorge Luis, 38, Juan David, 34, and Fabio Jr., 31.
A hardworking family that used to wait tables at the family roadside restaurant in Medellin, they formed a partnership with Escobar and Lehder in the incipient cocaine trade of the mid-1970s.
According to Colombian and U.S. intelligence reports, Jorge Luis organized the production and his brothers established a beachhead on the wholesale side in Miami.
Although they try to keep a low profile, Jorge Luis made headlines in 1987 when he walked out of a Bogota maximum-security prison on a bogus release permit while awaiting possible extradition to the United States. The three brothers have been indicted in Miami on drug conspiracy charges.
-GONZALO RODRIGUEZ GACHA, 42, known as 'The Mexician,' started as a street urchin in Bogota who soon rose to become a bodyguard for emerald dealers.
In the late 1970s, he hooked up with the Medellin Cartel and pioneered cocaine distribution routes through Mexico to Houston and Los Angeles, authorities said.
By 1987, he made the cover of Fortune Magazine as the world's newest billionaire coke dealer. Rodriguez Gacha has been indicted in Colombia for organizing a number of death sqauds and is wanted in several U.S. cities for cccaine smuggling.
-GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ OREJUELA, 47, leader of the Cali cocaine cartel, is nicknamed 'The Chess Player' for his touted ability to turn problems to his advantage.
When arrested in Madrid on a U.S. warrant in 1986, he convinced Spanish authorities to extradite him instead to Colombia. He stood trial and was acquitted on the same charges he is wanted for in the United States.
Rodriguez Orejuela has diversified cocaine earnings into a business empire in Colombia and other Latin American countries, police say. He was indicted in NeweYork on drug smuggling conspiracy charges.