A car bomb exploded Friday in front of a hotel in the Caribbean port of Barranquilla, seriously injuring six people, the city's fire chief said.
Barranquilla is well-known among drug-trafficking circles as the jumping-off point for much of the Colombian cocaine that is smuggled into the United States.The army headquarters in Barranquilla said in a communique broadcast by the radio network RCN that five hotel employees and a guest were injured in the blast. A suspect reportedly was arrested, RCN said, quoting police sources.
Another mid-level drug trafficking suspect meanwhile was arrested and was being held for extradition to the United States, Colombia's federal police said Friday.
The suspect was identified by Colombian national police as Robert James Sokolowski.
The Justice Department in Washington said the suspect was actually Robert Sokol Jr., 29, who is wanted on a 1984 federal indictment in Greensboro, N.C., on conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Four drug traffickers already have been extradited to the United States to face trial. The latest arrest brings to six the number of Colombians awaiting extradition on drug-related charges in the United States.
None of the leaders of Colombia's two big cocaine cartels however has been arrested since the government of President Virgilio Barco began its crackdown Aug. 18 on traffickers following the assassination of a leading presidential candidate.
Judges on Friday ended a three-day strike for protection from drug barons, but they said their demands were not met and they have not received any of the $19 million in security aid promised by Washington.
The judges threatened to strike again if the government does not provide bulletproof vests, bulletproof cars and bodyguards.
The government has promised for next week 25 motorcycles for guards, 72 bulletproof vests and 14 metal detectors, a lawyer with the union told The Associated Press on Friday.
On Nov. 30, there will be 50 bulletproof cars turned over to judges who face the most danger from the traffickers, the lawyer, Gregorio Oviedo, said in a telephone interview.
The only protection given the country's 5,000 judges so far were 40 bulletproof vests delivered as part of a $65 million U.S. military aid package for fighting the traffickers, Oviedo said.
But the vests weighed 45 pounds and were returned because they were so heavy and many of the lighter-framed judges were barely able to walk around with them on, the lawyer said.