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In extradition of Walid Makled, Colombia weighs ties with US, Venezuela

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Months of rapprochement between Colombia and Venezuela hang on the fate of a suspected Venezuelan drug kingpin being held in a maximum-security prison in Colombia.

Colombia’s Supreme Court announced Friday that Walid Makled can be extradited. But the thorny question of whether he should be sent to the United States or to Venezuela now rests with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, forcing the recently elected leader to choose between pacifying an unpredictable neighbor or satisfying its most important military ally.

Washington branded Mr. Makled a “Significant Foreign Narcotics Trafficker” in May 2009 and he is wanted in New York for allegedly smuggling tons of cocaine into the US. Arrested in Colombia last August, he quickly made it clear he was not going down alone, accusing high-level government and military officials in Venezuela of complicity with the drug trade.

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“With what I have, I have enough for them [the US] to intervene [in] Venezuela ... immediately,” Makled told a Colombian news station, making it clear he would reveal “all he knows” to American officials if he is extradited to the US.

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