Fabio Ochoa Restrepo, drug family patriarch
BOGOTA, Colombia - (AP) -- Fabio Ochoa Restrepo, the patriarch of one of
Colombia's most important
drug trafficking families, died Monday of kidney failure. He was 78.
Fabio Ochoa, whose sons were top lieutenants in Pablo Escobar's Medellín
cartel, was never accused
of drug trafficking, but he always defended his family's reputation.
His oldest son, Jorge Luis Ochoa, told RCN television that his father,
who had been overweight and in
ill health for much of his adult life, suffered a blood infection last week.
Most of the family gathered at the La Loma ranch Monday. Fabio Ochoa was
a renowned horse
Jorge Luis Ochoa noted that his father's namesake and youngest son, Fabio
Ochoa Vasquez, could not
attend because he is in jail in the United States on drug trafficking charges.
The Medellín cartel turned drug trafficking into a multibillion dollar industry.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Escobar unleashed a campaign of bombings
and assassinations in
an attempt to intimidate the state into abolishing extraditions.
The Ochoa family chose a more peaceful approach, and Ochoa Vasquez was
the first major trafficker to
turn himself in to authorities in exchange for a promise he wouldn't be extradited for past crimes.
His surrender opened the way for his two older brothers to also turn themselves in.
The deal, and a subsequent constitutional reform outlawing extradition,
were struck in hopes of ending
the violence, which finally abated when police killed Escobar in 1993.
A December 1997 constitutional change reinstated extradition but only for
crimes committed after that
The three brothers spent five years in Colombian jails and vowed not to
get involved in drugs again
when they were released in 1996.
However, Ochoa Vasquez was indicted in federal court in Florida on charges
that after 1997 he
resumed trafficking to the United States via Mexico.
The elder Ochoa defended his son until the end, insisting that Ochoa Vasquez
was innocent the day
before he was extradited to the United States last year.