Colombian charged with smuggling tons of coke

/ Source: The Associated Press

A reputed major cocaine trafficker who allegedly threatened to kill U.S. law enforcement officials has been brought from Colombia to the United States to face charges.

Carlos Patino Restrepo was flown to the United States and arrived in an armored car for his arraignment Thursday in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

Patino Restrepo, 44, is accused of bringing tons of cocaine into the United States beginning in the 1990s, according to court documents, Newsday reported. He is charged with conspiracy to possess and import cocaine into the country, with intent to distribute.

He pleaded not guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert, who ordered him held without bail as a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Patino Restrepo's New York attorney, Todd Merer, denied that his client had threatened to kill the previous prosecutor and agent on the case, telling Newsday the charges were based on the fraudulent testimony of two or three Colombians.

Accomplice of top drug lord
In Colombia, authorities considered Patino Restrepo an accomplice of top cocaine lord Wilber Varela, who was on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's list of most wanted fugitives, with a $5 million reward for his arrest. Varela was found shot to death earlier this year in Venezuela.

The cartel would deliver the cocaine to the Colombian port of Buenaventura, where Mexican transporters loaded it on boats and planes to the United States, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Patino Restrepo was arrested last year in Colombia, and authorities there approved his extradition to the United States.