Pubdate: Wed, 17 Nov 1999
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 1999 Houston Chronicle
Page: 21A


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Authorities arrested the widow and son of
Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar on Tuesday, shortly after a television
program revealed that police were shadowing the two as part of a
money-laundering investigation.

Security Minister Miguel Angel Toma said the early morning arrests of
Victoria Henao Vallejos and Juan Pablo Escobar in a middle-class Buenos
Aires neighborhood had been prodded by the program's revelation.

Police had been tracking the two for several months, Toma said, but quickly
moved in to arrest Vallejos and her son hoping not to lose them after their
presence in Argentina was made public.

"We would have preferred to keep working on this a bit," Toma told
reporters. "But with the possibility of a leak we had to act."

Under heavy security, both appeared before a federal judge Tuesday. Judge
Gabriel Cavallo told reporters he had not brought formal charges against
them and would allow them more time to prepare for a second court
appearance, possibly today. If convicted, they could face sentences ranging
from two to 10 years.

Colombian chief prosecutor Alfonso Gomez said Tuesday that there were no
pending criminal investigations in his country against either Henao or her

Pablo Escobar, whose campaign of bombings and assassinations to avoid
capture and extradition to the United States left thousands of Colombians
dead, was killed in a gunfight with police in December 1993.

His wife and children vanished from Colombia in 1995, after being denied
asylum by several countries and fearing retaliation from rival drug lords.
A nephew of Pablo Escobar was shot to death in May while working out in a
health club in Medellin, the city Escobar once tightly controlled.

Argentine officials said both Henao and her son had been living in Buenos
Aires for nearly a year and a half and had entered the country through
Chile with false documents.

Argentine President Carlos Menem said he hoped the arrests could help his
country "better understand how narcotrafficking is operating in Argentina."

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