Warrants issued in Colombian coke bust
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombian prosecutors investigating a 7.2-ton
shipment seized on its way to Cuba in 1998 have issued arrest warrants for two
Spanish businessmen who allegedly owned the cargo.
An assistant to a ``faceless'' prosecutor, whose identity is kept
secret to protect
his life, said Friday that Jose Royo Llorca and Jose Herrera Campos, now
believed to be living in Spain, were charged with drug trafficking.
Royo, Herrera and a Cuban government agency were partners in a
factory in Havana that was to have received the cocaine shipment from Colombia,
hidden in six shipping containers.
Cuban officials have said the Spaniards intended to reship the
containers to Spain
and distribute the cocaine in Europe. Police found the shipment in the Caribbean
port of Cartagena on Dec. 3, 1998, just days before the Colombian firm E.I. Caribe
was to ship the containers to Cuba, loaded with plastic resins for the
Royo-Herrera company in Havana.
The Spaniards have steadfastly denied any role in the drug shipment
and allege it
was the work of Cubans in the government agency that owns 51 percent of the
Havana firm, Artesanias Caribeñas Poliplast y Royo.
Prosecution aides said Colombian authorities have not yet decided
seek the extradition of Royo and Herrera, who were questioned and released by
Spanish police days after the seizure.
A Colombian warrant issued for the Spaniards in 1999 was only
Two Colombians accused of minor roles in the shipment are awaiting
trial, but one
key suspect and a potential witness were shot to death in late 1999, leading the
Justice Ministry to appoint a faceless prosecutor.