MIAMI, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Reputed one-time Colombian cocaine kingpin Diego Leon Montoya Sanchez is in Florida after being extradited from his South American homeland, U.S. officials say.
Known as "Don Diego," Montoya Sanchez allegedly once commanded the North Valley cartel, a narco-trafficking empire that exported at least 1.2 million pounds of cocaine to the United States. But Friday he was sitting in a tiny federal jail cell in Miami, The Miami Herald reported.
U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta said the Colombian's extradition marked a historic point in efforts by the United States to smash the vast cartel, saying Montoya Sanchez's arrest was the most significant since the convictions of brothers Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela, the 1980s leaders of Colombia's Cali cartel.
Authorities said Montoya Sanchez's cartel was responsible for at least 1,500 murders and nearly two-thirds of the 500 tons of cocaine exported from Colombia every year after taking over from the busted Cali and Medellin cartels in the 1990's.
He was captured by the Colombian military in September 2007, the Herald said, and has been wanted in the United States on drug trafficking, money laundering and murder charges since 1999.