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Two brothers from Panama have been extradited to the US in a multicrore criminal case involving the drug trade, acting US Attorney Joon Kim announced on Friday.
Filipino citizen Roberto Borge Sanchez and his brother José Mariano Borge Sanchez were among a group of 11 people arrested in Panama on Wednesday.
They are accused of conspiring to import 80 kilograms (177 pounds) of cocaine into the US from Mexico using tunnels as a means of crossing the Panamanian border, the Southern District of California said in a statement.
The pair have been detained since they landed at the Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on a flight from Brussels.
Roberto Borge Sanchez, 68, and José Mariano Borge Sanchez, 48, were part of a group that bought homes in both Panama and the US, according to prosecutors.
But two more members of the drug trafficking ring were unable to reach Panama before their arrest, according to the US Attorney.
Another man suspected of being an associate of the Borge Sanchez brothers were arrested at Miami International Airport before being deported to Panama on Thursday.
The US was unable to extradite 32-year-old Ramon Ravon Simundor Rojas for months because his lawyers had indicated that they would file a lawsuit to prevent the government from proceeding with extradition proceedings, according to a spokeswoman for the US Attorney’s Office.
Sentencing is set for October 10.
The Borge Sanchez brothers’ extradition is part of an international investigation dubbed “Operation Victoria” – in the name of the late US news anchor Jane Pauley – that involved Drug Enforcement Administration and US law enforcement in Panama and the US.
The men face drug smuggling and trafficking charges that carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.