One of Colombia’s cocaine cowboys is now out of prison. Carlos Lehder, Pablo Escobar’s crime partner in the Medellin Cartel, was released from prison this week after serving 33 years behind bars. Lehder, who acquired German citizenship through his father who immigrated to the country from Colombia, was transported back to Germany after being released from a Florida prison where he was being held for witness protection.
Frank Micelotta/Getty Images
Per AP, he was declared a leader of the Medellin Cartel that had admiration for Hitler and John Legend. He was also included as one of the characters in Narcos that’s gained heavy popularity on Netflix. He was initially extradited to the United States in 1987 after the U.S. government for his role in the cartel. Though he was initially facing a 135 year sentence, he ultimately testified against Panamanian politician Gen. Manuel Noriega who had close ties to the cartel.
“Nobody accused of drug trafficking goes to trial in the U.S. anymore,” Lehder’s attorney, Oscar Arroyave, said. He explained that it’s because it’s incredibly pricey for defendants to fight charges and ultimately lose their case in a jury trial. “Had he pled guilty, he would’ve been home 15 years ago. In today’s world, there are drug traffickers far bigger that Carlos Lehder who pay five to six years.”