News24 (South Africa)
January 24, 2005

Cuban 'drug lord' in SA court

Yvonne beyers

Johannesburg - His life story sounds like that of a villain in a James Bond movie, with drugs, Russian submarines, false names, forged passports and more than a decade on the run from the police.

When the 47-year-old Cuban, Nelson Pablo Yester-Garrido appears in the Johannesburg High Court on Monday, however, his days as fugitive will probably come to an end. He is believed to be one of the world's top drug lords.

Yester-Garrido, who used up to 30 pseudonyms, was arrested two years ago at his home in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, and has been held at the Pretoria Central Prison ever since. Interpol issued a warrant for his arrest about seven years ago.

Yester-Garrido has been on the run from American law for the past 14 years. Miami police want him for blackmail and conspiring to import, possess and distribute drugs in the US. It's not known when he fled to South Africa.

In South Africa, Yester-Garrido posed as a salesman of cars, motorbikes and airplanes, but his drug syndicate's tentacles apparently stretched into the US, South America and Russia.

In the late 1980s or early 1990s he apparently tried to buy a Russian submarine, which he planned to use for running cocaine to the US west coast.

The Randburg regional court earlier ruled that Yester-Garrido had to be extradited to the US.