A suspected Colombian drug smuggler sought by federal prosecutors from the District for 13 months in connection with a major cocaine case was arraigned yesterday at U.S. District Court here.
Marcos Cadavid, 43, was one of four Colombian nationals extradited on Saturday by authorities there under a 1982 extradition treaty that is being touted by the Justice Department as a breakthrough in the war on drugs.
The return of Cadavid and three other Colombians to the United States to face drug charges was announced over the weekend by Attorney General William French Smith, the first such extraditions permitted by Colombian authorities.
"We are very pleased with the cooperation of the Colombian government," Washington's U.S. attorney, Joseph E. diGenova, said yesterday.
"This is a significant event in international law enforcement," he said.
DiGenova called the extraditions "a major blow to the sanctuary these thugs have enjoyed for many, many years."
Cadavid was one of 15 individuals indicted here on Dec. 9, 1983, in connection with an alleged drug conspiracy and money-laundering operation that included as defendants Fred B. Black Jr., a Washington lobbyist, and William G. Hessler, a former vice president of Riggs National Bank.
District Judge Thomas F. Hogan indicated during yesterday's arraignment that a trial for Black and three codefendants, scheduled to begin this week, may be postponed to give prosecutors time to include Cadavid in the proceedings.
Seven of those indicted in 1983 have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
Two others, including an Alexandria man, Albert B. Hutchinson II, 36, still are fugitives.
Cadavid, appearing in Hogan's courtroom under extremely heavy security, entered a plea of not guilty to the charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. "I say I'm innocent," Cadavid said, speaking through an interpreter.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger M. Adelman asked that Cadavid be held without bond under a recently enacted law that permits pretrial detention of defendants whom a judge believes are a danger to the community or might flee the area.
Hogan scheduled a hearing for Friday on whether to set bond for Cadavid and set a separate hearing for today on whether to delay the trial of the codefendants.
The grand jury charged in 1983 that Cadavid and a codefendant, Armando "The Hammer" Marulanda, 40, of Miami, arranged the importation of cocaine from Colombia to the Miami area.
The drugs allegedly were stored and sold to American buyers through a food distribution warehouse called "Sea Eight Trading" that was used as a front for the operation.
Marulanda is still being sought by U.S. authorities.
According to the indictment, some of the cocaine was purchased by a D.C. native, Lawrence G. Strickland Jr., 33, of Bethesda, and resold through a network in Washington, Texas, California, New Jersey and elsewhere.
Strickland has pleaded guilty in the case.
Prosecutors said that Cadavid fled the United States shortly after his indictment.
He was arrested last fall by Colombian officials.
His extradition last weekend was approved by the Colombian Supreme Court and by President Belisario Betancur.
The grand jury charged that Black introduced Strickland to a major cocaine wholesaler in Miami and helped Strickland by laundering more than $1 million of the money obtained by drug sales through the Riggs bank.
The money allegedly passed through Black's accounts at the bank's Watergate branch, which was managed by Hessler.