Colombian pleads not guilty to more US charges

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NEW YORK (AP) — A Colombian who authorities say is known as "El Loco" pleaded not guilty Thursday to money laundering charges in a U.S. case accusing him of trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine.

A lawyer for Daniel Barrera Barrera entered the plea in federal court in Brooklyn a day after he pleaded not guilty to related narcotics charges in his first court appearance in Manhattan.

Barrera, who's being held without bail, did not speak during the brief proceeding. The lawyer, Ruben Oliva, declined comment outside court.

U.S. prosecutors have described the 44-year-old Barrera as one of the largest cocaine distributors in history. They alleged he laundered tens of millions of dollars of profits as he processed about 30,000 kilograms — more than 60,000 pounds — of raw cocaine into cocaine powder each month since 1998.

The U.S. Treasury Department in March 2010 put Barrera on its list of most-wanted Colombian narcotics traffickers. He was arrested last September in Venezuela. He was then sent to Colombia, where the U.S. pursued his extradition.

Barrera reportedly had several cosmetic surgeries and tried to burn off his fingerprints with acid to mask his identity. His attorney has denied his client had the surgeries.

Venezuelan officials say they confiscated houses, ranches, a yacht, apartments and 48 cars from Barrera, U.S. authorities said.

U.S. prosecutors say Barrera's organization produced as much as 400 tons of cocaine annually and used some of the proceeds to fund rebel groups, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC.

 
 
 

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