NATIONAL NEWS

Former Colombian military officer accused in base bombing extradited to Florida

Dec 1, 2023, 4:42 PM

MIAMI (AP) — A former Colombian military officer accused of injuring dozens, including three U.S. soldiers, in a bombing attack at a Colombian military base has been extradited to South Florida.

A five-count indictment against Andres Fernando Medina Rodriguez, 39, was unsealed Friday in Miami federal court, according to court records. A federal grand jury brought charges last year that include conspiring to murder members of the U.S. uniformed services and attempted murder of members of the U.S. uniformed services. He faces a possible life sentence.

A defense attorney for Medina Rodriguez didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment from The Associated Press.

Court records list another man charged in the indictment, Ciro Alfonso Gutierrez Ballesteros, as a fugitive.

According to the indictment, Medina Rodriguez and others planned a bombing attack against the Colombian 30th Army Brigade Base in Cucuta, Colombia. Medina Rodriguez used his status as a medically discharged Colombian army officer to gain access to the base and conduct surveillance.

Cucuta is located on the border with Venezuela, where several criminal groups have fought over drug trafficking routes and used the loosely patrolled border to smuggle fuel and weapons.

Medina Rodriguez was instructed to purchase a vehicle suitable to transport an explosive device, prosecutors said. He bought a white SUV, which was taken to Venezuela and outfitted with the explosives, investigators said.

In June 2021, Medina Rodriguez drove the vehicle loaded with explosives to the Cucuta base, where he pulled the detonation pin and fled the area, prosecutors said. Officials previously reported 36 people were injured in the bombing and that U.S. soldiers had been there to conduct training exercises.

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Former Colombian military officer accused in base bombing extradited to Florida