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Lessons for Mexico from Colombia's capture of drug kingpin?

Officials nabbed Daniel Rendón Wednesday. Colombia has used extradition and technology to make headway against drug lords.

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Colombian drug lord "Don Mario" might have been on his way to becoming the next Pablo Escobar, heading a vast trafficking empire that controlled cocaine shipments along the Caribbean coast. But he was still trying to consolidate his power when police caught him this week cowering under planks of wood beneath a palm tree.

The capture Wednesday of the drug lord, whose real name is Daniel Rendón, was hailed as a "major blow."

Colombia's successes against drug lords, a former senior US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official explains, are the result of decades of experience by top law-enforcement officials, of Colombia's policy of extraditing wanted traffickers to the US, and of US funding, intelligence, and technology.

These lessons from Colombia could well be applied in Mexico, where drug cartels are facing off with the government in bloody battles, and where President Obama arrived Thursday to talk about increasing violence.

"Two things that really turned things around in Colombia were extradition and the use of wiretaps," says the DEA official, who worked Colombia and Mexico and asked not to be named. "There are lessons to be learned for Mexico" from Colombia's experience.


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