Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

August 2, 2004 - The International Herald-Tribune (International)

Colombian Leader Linked To Cocaine Traffickers

By Juan Forero, New York Times

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

BOGOTÁ - A recently declassified U.S. intelligence report from 1991 says that President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, now a staunch supporter of Washington's war against drug trafficking, was at that time a close associate of Colombia's most powerful drug lord and an ardent ally of the cocaine traffickers then engulfing this country.

A spokesman for Uribe denounced the findings in the Defense Intelligence Agency's 13-year-old report on Colombia's biggest drug traffickers as "the same information" presented in a campaign by political opponents in the 2002 presidential election. And senior U.S. intelligence officials and diplomats cautioned that such reports might not be accurate. However, the statement issued by the presidential spokesman did not directly address the report's most damaging assertion: that Uribe had been linked to the top drug trafficker of the era, Pablo Escobar.

The report, dated Sept. 23, 1991, and obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive, a private, nonpartisan research group based in Washington, says that Uribe, at the time a senator from the northern state of Antioquia, was "dedicated to collaboration with the Medellin cartel at high government levels."

The report, which the archive made public on Monday, calls Uribe a "close personal friend" of Escobar, who led the cartel, and says Uribe took part in the drug lord's successful efforts to secure a seat as an auxiliary congressman. It says that Uribe was linked to an unidentified business involved in narcotics activities in the United States, that as a senator he opposed extraditing traffickers to the United States and that his father, Alberto Uribe, was killed because of his drug ties.

The report is labeled "not finally evaluated." Diplomats and intelligence officers, told about the report, noted that this indicates that its author relied on raw information that had not been confirmed.

In response to inquiries by The New York Times, Ricardo Galan, a spokesman for President Uribe, issued an eight-point response on Friday that said the Defense Intelligence Agency report had been of a preliminary nature. The statement said that in 1991 Uribe had been studying at Harvard and that he had never had business dealings in the United States.

The statement also said Uribe's father had been killed while trying to resist Marxist rebels who intended to kidnap him. It affirmed Uribe's commitment to extradition, though it explained only loosely Uribe's opposition as a senator to a proposed referendum on extradition. It did not address the report's allegation that Uribe participated in the campaign that took Escobar to Congress.

Robert Zimmerman, a State Department spokesman, was more emphatic in denying the report's findings. "We completely disavow these allegations about President Uribe," he said. "We have no credible information that substantiates or corroborates the allegations in an unevaluated 1991 report."

Still, the report is certain to raise new questions about allegations made in 2001 and 2002, when Uribe was campaigning for the presidency, about possible ties to drug dealers, including the powerful Ochoa clan in Medellin, Colombia's drug-trafficking center. Solid evidence was never presented, though, and Uribe won in a landslide based on his pledge that he would fight Marxist rebels and drug traffickers.

The United States has strongly supported Uribe since then, and he is considered among the Bush administration's closest allies in its effort to curb drug trafficking.

During his two years in office, a U.S.-$ financed fumigation effort has eradicated much of Colombia's vast drug crop. About 150 Colombians accused of drug trafficking have been extradited to the United States, more than double the number extradited by Uribe's predecessor during his four-year term.

Senior diplomats and intelligence officials involved in the drug war in Colombia in the early 1990s cautioned against drawing conclusions from the report, noting that such documents were routinely produced with little vetting or oversight.

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact