Ecuadorian Drug Lord Extradited from Colombia to United States
Washington Prado Álava, a drug lord accused of smuggling more than 250 tons of cocaine across the Americas, was extradited on the morning of February 24 to the U.S. from Colombia.
Prado Álava is commonly referred to as the Pablo Escobar of Ecuador. Escobar gained fame in the 1980s and 1990s as being one of the largest distributors of cocaine in all of the Americas. In addition to drug trafficking, Prado Álava is wanted in Ecuador for the murder of various judicial officers and law enforcement officers.
Colombian prosecutors commented, “Washington Prado Álava is considered one of the biggest capos [bosses] in recent years and became a top target for the United States.”
A statement released by Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office reads: “Prado Álava, who remained in Bogota’s La Picota prison since April 12, 2017, was escorted out in a security operation involving 50 commandos and agents.” These agents are members of Colombia’s Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol, the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Prado Álava was arrested on April 11, 2017 in Colombia alongside three of his associates: Ecuadorian Leonardo Adrian Vera, alias “Thiago, and Colombians Robinson Alberto Castro, alias “Rocho,” and Diego Fernando Arizala, alias “Zorro."
At the time of Prado Álava’s arrest, the Colombian police said the following on his role in the drug trafficking scheme: “[he] controlled the links of the chain of drug trafficking, such as production, logistics, maritime route, dispatches and commercialization of cocaine.”
In 2016, Prado Álava attempted to join the FARC, a leftist rebel group turned reformed political party. He could have avoided extradition since he would have been tried by the Special Jurisdiction of Peace (la Jurisdicción Especial de la Paz).
The Special Jurisdiction of Peace is made up of courts whose objectives are investigating and prosecuting human rights violations related to armed conflicts between the FARC and the Colombian government. Cases tried in the Special Jurisdiction of Peace often result in alternative sentencing.
Now that Prado Álava is in United States custody, however, he will be tried in accordance with U.S. law. His extradition is only a small victory in a much larger struggle to prevent drug trafficking across U.S. borders.