|Birth Day:||September 7, 1949|
|Birth Place:||Armenia, Colombia, Colombia|
|#3||Willheim Lehder Rivas||Parents||N/A||N/A||N/A|
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That island was Norman's Cay, which at that point consisted of a marina, a yacht club, approximately 100 private homes, and an airstrip. In 1978, Lehder began buying up property and harassing and threatening the island's residents; at one point, a yacht was found drifting off the coast with the corpse of one of its owners aboard. Lehder is estimated to have spent $4.5 million on the island in total.
From 1978 through 1982, the Cay was the Caribbean's main drug-smuggling hub, and a tropical hideaway and playground for Lehder and associates. They flew cocaine in from Colombia on all sorts of aircraft able to land fully loaded on the airstrip, reloaded it into various small aircraft, and then distributed it to locations in Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas. Lehder was believed to have received 1 kilo out of every 4 that was transported through Norman's Cay.
Lehder expanded a runway to 3,300-foot (1,000 m), protected by radar, bodyguards, and Doberman attack dogs for the fleet of aircraft under his command. At the height of his operation, 300 kilograms of cocaine would arrive on the island daily, and Lehder's personal wealth mounted into the billions. He accumulated such staggering wealth that on two occasions he offered to pay the Colombian external debt. In 1978, he made an offer to do so to President Alfonso López Michelsen, in exchange for a free space for drug trafficking. In 1982, through Pablo Escobar, who was a Colombian Congressman at the time, Lehder did so again, this time in an attempt to prevent his extradition.
Having captured one of the Cartel's most powerful members, the U.S. government used him as a source of information about the details of the Cartel's secret empire, which later proved useful in assisting the Colombian government to dismantle the Cartel. In 1987, Lehder was extradited to the United States, where he was tried and sentenced to life without parole, plus an additional 135 years. Now all of the other cartel leaders knew what would happen if they were extradited, and soon afterward, the Medellín Cartel organizations split up. These smaller organizations, especially Escobar's, were later attacked by the Cali Cartel, the Colombian police/army, and soon by the U.S. government, as well. A violent war began as the Medellin Cartel leaders tried to protect themselves by fighting back.
In 1992, in exchange for Lehder's agreement to testify against Manuel Noriega, his sentence was reduced to a total of 55 years. Three years after that, Lehder wrote a letter to a Jacksonville federal district judge, complaining that the government had reneged on a deal to transfer him to a German prison. The letter was construed as a threat against the judge.
On July 22, 2005, he appeared in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to contest his sentence. Lehder appeared pro se, arguing that the United States failed to carry out its obligations under a cooperation agreement he had entered into with the United States Attorney's Office, after he held up his end of the deal. (United States v. Lehder-Rivas, 136 Fed. Appx. 324; 2005).
In May 2007, Lehder requested the Supreme Court of Colombia and the Colombian government to intervene in order to comply with the extradition agreement established between Colombia and the USA, which stated that a maximum sentence of 30 years would be applied to any extradited Colombian citizen. Lehder argued then that, having already served 20 years in prison, which corresponded to two-thirds of the 30-year maximum time stated in the treaty, he had completed his legal sentence and should therefore be released.
In May 2008, Lehder's lawyer declared to El Tiempo that a habeas corpus petition had been filed, alleging that Lehder's cooperation agreement had been violated and that "a court in Washington" had less than 30 days to respond to the notice.
According to his lawyer, Lehder was transferred to minimum security prison in Florida. He was visited regularly by his family members, and had access to TV and to a computer with only email access. An article published by Cronica Del Quindio in January 2015 reported that Lehder could be released and extradited to Germany at any time.
On June 24, 2015, Lehder wrote a letter to then-President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, in which he requested mediation with the United States to be allowed to return to Colombia.
Lehder was released from prison on June 16, 2020 and escorted to Germany by two US officials on a regular passenger flight from New York to Frankfurt and handed over to German authorities. According to declarations made by his daughter, a reason for his release is a relapse of prostate cancer, which he had been diagnosed with years earlier, and which a charity in Germany has agreed to pay for the treatment.
Currently, Carlos Lehder is 72 years, 9 months and 25 days old. Carlos Lehder will celebrate 73rd birthday on a Wednesday 7th of September 2022.
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