NEW YORK (Reuters) - A top-ranking Colombian rebel was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison by a judge in New York on Friday for conspiring to import tons of cocaine into the United States.
Jorge Enrique Rodriguez Mendieta, 47, pleaded guilty in December in U.S. District Court, admitting that from 1998 to 2004 he was a commander of the 24th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
Mendieta was arrested in Colombia in 2004 and extradited to the United States in 2007.
"Jorge Enrique Rodriguez Mendieta for years occupied one of the FARC's top leadership roles, overseeing the manufacture and distribution of thousands of kilograms of cocaine and participating in the policy-making of the FARC," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
The leftist FARC is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States. U.S. and Colombian authorities say it funds its operations through cocaine trafficking and extortion. U.S. officials say it has become the world's biggest supplier of cocaine.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Will Dunham)