A second major figure in the powerful Medellin cocaine cartel has chosen to face justice in exchange for the government's promise not to allow extradition to the United States, police said.
The surrender of Jorge Luis Ochoa on Tuesday and his brother's arranged capture last month stripped the cartel of two of its top leaders, authorities said.Five other minor drug traffickers have surrendered since the government first offered its no-extradition program Sept. 5.
"This demonstrates that the policy of surrendering to the law offered by the government to drug traffickers is having good results," said Rafael Pardo, presidential adviser on internal security.
President Cesar Gaviria offered the partial amnesty to end a bloody confrontation between the drug dealers and the government that has left at least 550 people dead.
Ochoa, 41, reputedly the No. 2 man in the cartel, turned himself in at Caldas, 10 miles south of Medellin. He was jailed in the Medellin suburb of Itagui, court officials said.
He could face up to 30 years in prison, but authorities have promised to be lenient with dealers who turn themselves in.
"I turned myself in because I believe in justice and the Colombian government," local television quoted Ochoa as saying.
Ochoa appeared in a soundless video released by his family and shown on the evening television news.
Ochoa's younger brother, Fabio, also a cartel leader, surrendered Dec. 19.
Pablo Escobar Gaviria, 43, the top cartel leader, is still a fugitive.