Colombian man accused of kidnapping Americans extradited to Un

Sunday, May 18, 2003

BOGOTA, Colombia -- A Colombian man wanted in the kidnapping of numerous Americans was extradited to the United States on Saturday.

Gerardo Herrera left Bogota Saturday morning on an FBI plane, an official for Colombia's judicial police told The Associated Press.

The official, who declined to be identified, said Herrera faces drug-smuggling and hostage-taking charges in Washington.

Arrested in Bogota in June 2001, Herrera allegedly belonged to a group of kidnappers who for years targeted Americans and other foreigners working across the border in Ecuador.

One victim was Ronald Sander, an employee of Tulsa, Okla.-based Helmerich & Payne Inc. Sander was abducted in October 2000 along with seven other oil workers, including four Americans.

His bullet-ridden body was found on a jungle road in January 2001 covered in a white sheet scrawled with the message: "I am a gringo. For nonpayment of ransom." The seven other hostages were freed in March 2001 after $13 million was paid.

Two other alleged members of the gang were extradited to the United States late last year.

Kidnapping is a favorite method of criminal groups in Colombia, where 3,000 people were taken hostage last year.

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