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SLAIN COLOMBIAN IS IDENTIFIED AS DRUG LEADER

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 19 1989 12:00 a.m. MST

A man killed last week at the side of drug kingpin Jose Rodriguez Gacha has been identified as one of the secondary leaders of the powerful Medellin cocaine cartel, police said.

Authorities initially thought the man was one of the bodyguards slain during a gunbattle with police. But Luz Mary Celades, the wife of Rodriguez Gacha, identified the body as that of Gilberto Rendon Hurtado, the No. 8 man in the Medellin cartel.Rendon Hurtado was wanted for extradition to the United States, but he was not on the so-called dirty dozen list of top drug traffickers wanted by the U.S. government.

Rodriguez Gacha, the No. 2 man in the Medellin ring, and six others were killed in a gun battle with police Friday when they tried to shoot their way out of a police ambush on a ranch in northern Colombia. Rodriguez Gacha, his son Freddy Rodriguez Celades, Rendon Hurtado and four bodyguards were killed in the shootout.

Authorities continued to search Tuesday for some 30 gunmen who had been protecting Rodriguez Gacha last week. Police said all was quiet in Pacho, 19 miles north of the capital, where Rodriguez Gacha and his son Freddy were buried Sunday in a small ceremony.

The slaying of Rodriguez Gacha was the first major victory for the government in its battle against the druglords. President Virgilio Barco launched an all-out offensive on the cocaine cartels in August.

Police sources said helicopters donated by friendly countries were used in the effort to track down Rodriguez Gacha last week.

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