A suspected drug chief known as the “Pablo Escobar of Ecuador” was extradited to the United States on Saturday, Colombia’s chief prosecutor’s office announced.
Washington Edison Prado had tried unsuccessfully to prevent extradition by claiming membership in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a status that would have made him eligible for a type of amnesty under a peace deal.
The prosecutor’s office said in a statement that Prado was escorted by a detail of 50 commandos and agents of various police agencies as he was turned over to U.S. authorities.
U.S. officials accuse Prado, also known by the alias “Gerald,” of shipping more than 250 tons of cocaine to the United States.
Police say he ran the most sophisticated smuggling route on the Pacific coast of South America, and they compared it to Escobar’s Medellin cartel of three decades ago because it sought to dominate the entire cocaine supply chain from production to its distribution in the U.S.
Police say his group sent as many as 10 go-fast boats a week, each carrying around a ton of cocaine.
He allegedly began as a boatman running drugs along Ecuador’s coast and rose to become head of a small army of smugglers spread across five countries.
Prado was arrested in Colombia in April on an indictment by a Florida federal court.