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Daniel Rendon Herrera, once the "most feared narco-terrorist in Colombia," sentenced to 35 years in U.S. prison

Colombia to extradite "drug lord" to U.S.
Colombia to extradite "country's most dangerous drug lord" to the U.S. 00:19

A notorious Colombian drug lord nicknamed Don Mario was sentenced to 35 years in a U.S. prison, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Last year, Don Mario, whose real name is Daniel Rendon Herrera, pleaded guilty in a New York court to running a criminal enterprise and conspiring to support a designated terrorist group called the Clan del Golfo, or Gulf Clan.

Colombia Drug Lord
Police officers escort Colombian drug trafficker Daniel Rendon Herrera, alias "Don Mario," after his arrest, at a police airport in Bogota, Colombia, April 15, 2009. William Fernando Martinez/AP

The Gulf Clan employed "hitmen, who carried out various acts of violence, including murders, assaults, kidnappings, and assassinations to collect drug debts, maintain discipline, control and expand drug territory and to promote and enhance the prestige, reputation and position of the organization," prosecutors said.

The sentence "marks the end of the criminal career of Rendon Herrera," once the "most feared narco-terrorist in Colombia," said Breon Peace, prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York.

Rendon Herrera used to be a leader of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known as AUC, which the U.S. government designated in 2001 as a global terrorism organization.

He admitted in court "to providing material support to a designated terrorist organization that brutally killed, kidnapped, and tortured rival drug traffickers and civilians," the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.

Rendon Herrera also admitted to having trafficked more than 80 tons of cocaine as part of his billion-dollar cocaine empire.

By 2009, when Rendon Herrera was captured by police, he commanded 16 "bloques," or territories, across Colombia and thousands of armed paramilitary fighters, prosecutors said.

In addition to his jail term, Judge Doris Irizarry ordered Rendon Herrera, who is 57 and from Antioquia, to pay $45.7 million in damages.

Earlier this year, Colombia extradited the alleged head of the Gulf Clan, who had been the country's most wanted drug lord before his capture, to the United States. Colombian President Iván Duque said Dairo Antonio Úsuga David is "comparable only to Pablo Escobar," referring to the late former head of the Medellin drug cartel.

The Gulf Clan shut down dozens of towns in northern Colombia for four days in retaliation for the extradition.

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