An associate of Bahamian Prime Minister Lynden Pindling and reputed leaders of Colombia's Medellin cocaine cartel were charged with drug trafficking in a federal indictment unsealed here Wednesday.
The indictment also accuses alleged cartel leader Pablo Escobar Gaviria of organizing the assassination of Colombian Justice Minister Lara Bonilla in 1984.Other major figures among the 30 indicted were Everette Bannister, a close friend of Pindling's, as well as reputed cartel kingpins Jose Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, Jorge Ochoa Vasquez, Fabio Ochoa Vasquez and Gonzalo Mejia.
U.S. Attorney Robert W. Genzman said the indictment covers 1974 to the present and involved the importation of 44,000 pounds of cocaine.
The prosecutor refused to answer questions about continuing allegations that Pindling himself was involved in the drug operation.
The document charges that Barry Seal, an informant for the Drug Enforcment Administration, was killed at the direction of Fabio Ochoa, Escobar and other cartel members.
Also indicted Wednesday was Jack Carlton Reed, co-defendant of cartel leader Carlos Lehder Rivas. They were convicted here last year of conspiring to import cocaine, and Lehder is serving a life sentence.
"The case was investigated after the trial of Carlos Lehder, who is named as a co-conspirator in the indictment as a follow-up to the trial," said Genzman.
The indictment accuses many of the defendants of running a continuing criminal enterprise - punishable by a maximum life sentence - and conspiracy to import drugs.
Bannister, who lives in Nassau, is charged with receiving bribes to allow the cartel to use islands just off Florida as a way station for drug shipments.
Genzman said the United States would seek extradition of Bannister. As for the cartel leaders, he noted it had taken six years to get Lehder to the United States and expressed belief the others would eventually be brought to justice.