Archive for July 7th, 2010
Ten suspected Russian spies are being moved to New York to face charges they acted as unauthorised foreign agents.
The suspects are due to appear together in a federal court on Thursday.
Meanwhile, reports from Russia suggest the US may opt to deport the 10 in exchange for Russian prisoners.
The family of a man jailed in Russia for spying for the CIA said he had been told he and others would be swapped. Neither Russian nor US authorities have commented on reports of the exchange.
In a move which fuelled speculation about an imminent swap, a top US diplomat met the Russian ambassador to Washington.
No details were given of the talks between undersecretary of state for political affairs William Burns, a former US ambassador to Moscow, and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak other than the fact that the issue of spies came up in the meeting, in which they also discussed Iran.
In New York on Wednesday, a court unsealed an indictment against the 10 alleged Russian agents and an 11th suspect who went missing after being released on bail in Cyprus.
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said: “As the government indicated would happen when the case began, the defendants are being transported to the Southern District 'Next step' of New York to face the charges against them.”
He added: “Today's indictment is the next step in that process.”
The federal indictment does not change the charges already filed against the group, which is accused of laundering money and conspiring to act as unlawful agents of a foreign government.
Three of the suspected spies had been due to attend a court hearing in Virginia on Wednesday.
But the hearing was postponed and orders were issued to transport them “promptly to the Southern District of New York for further proceedings”.
Two others were to be transported from Boston.
No reason has been given for the transfer to New York, where the other suspects are in custody.
The 10 accused were arrested last month on suspicion of working as illegal agents for the Russian government.
The crime is less serious than espionage but carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.
On Wednesday, the New York Times quoted sources close to the case as saying the federal government was seeking a rapid resolution.
Meanwhile, the US government said it would appeal against a New York judge's decision to allow one suspect, Vicky Pelaez, to be released on bail.
The court will hear arguments in the matter on Friday.
In Russia, Igor Sutyagin, accused of spying for the CIA, was quoted as saying that he expected to be put on flights to Vienna, then London, on Thursday.
Sutyagin, a nuclear weapons specialist, is serving a 15-year jail sentence for passing information to a UK firm allegedly used as a front by the CIA.
According to his brother, Dmitry, he said he had been told by Russian officials that he would be released and sent to the UK in exchange for an unknown number of spies.
The officials met Sutyagin on Monday at a prison in Arkhangelsk, northern Russia, and US officials were at the meeting, the brother said.
After Monday's meeting, the prisoner was reportedly moved to Moscow's Lefortovo prison.
Anna Stavitskaya, a lawyer acting for Sutyagin, told Reuters that her client had agreed to be swapped “as he had no other choice left”.
“He knew that otherwise his whole life would be broken but he still insists he is innocent,” she said.
Russian media quote a member of Sutyagin's family as saying he had seen a list of names of prisoners likely to be swapped by Russia, including Sergei Skripal.
Skripal is a Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer convicted of spying for the UK in 2006. What is your reaction to this story? Would a “spy swap” be a good deal for the US and for Russia? Send us your comments. The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.
Osama Bin Laden's former cook and driver has pleaded guilty at a Guantanamo Bay tribunal to conspiracy and providing support for terrorism.
In a plea deal, Sudanese-born Ibrahim al-Qosi also admitted working as Bin Laden's bodyguard in Afghanistan and helping him avoid capture by US forces.
Mr Qosi, 50, has been held at the US naval base on Cuba for eight years.
His plea represents the first conviction for the Obama administration at the controversial war crimes court.
Mr Qosi was detained in Afghanistan in 2001 and transferred to the Guantanamo Bay facility in 2002, reports say.
He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, court officials were quoted as telling Reuters news agency.
Details of the plea deal were not immediately released.
While Mr Qosi still faces a life sentence, he may also be sentenced to time already served.
Cuba's communist authorities are to free at least 52 political prisoners, Catholic Church officials in Havana said.
The government has been under pressure to free dissidents since the death of a prisoner on hunger strike in February.
It denies the inmates are political prisoners, describing them as common criminals or “mercenaries” working for the United States.
The Church has increasingly become an important mediator.
After their meeting at the White House, President Barack Obama walked his guest, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, to his limousine.
The solicitous host waited, slightly awkwardly, as Mr Netanyahu settled himself into the back seat.
Immaculately uniformed servicemen stood rigidly to attention on either side of the vehicle.
And then the video ended, before you could see whether Mr Obama waved until his new pal was out of sight.
Actually he was only staying a few minutes walk away, at the official guest quarters, Blair House.
But it was time to bring the curtain down on the final scene in the day's political theatre.
One last detail was left. The White House released a photo of the two first ladies, chatting in a drawing room decked with flowers.
President Obama does not normally walk his guests to their cars.
The BBC's White House producer, an expert in these matters, tells me he didn't do it when President Nicolas Sarkozy of France was in town, nor when President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia came calling.
And he didn't do it either when Mr Netanyahu was last at the White House in March, which was why the political theatrics were necessary.
Then, President Obama exacted revenge for what one of his top aides had called an insult to the United States.
It was a plan to expand a Jewish settlement in Jerusalem, which had been unveiled a couple of weeks earlier.
Not only did it rub salt into the fact that Mr Netanyahu had refused a request from the White House to freeze all construction for Jews in the occupied Palestinian territories, the plan had been announced while the US Vice-President Joe Biden was visiting Jerusalem.
So that March meeting was held at dinner time, far too late for the evening news in Israel.
Not even a still photo was released. President Obama apparently absented himself for a while to eat with his family.
The Israelis were so stunned, according to the travelling press who flew back with the delegation, that they did not use the White House phone in case it was bugged.
More than three months on, both sides have decided that it is in their interests to make up, very publicly, which was the reason for why the prime minister was treated with such care and consideration.
President Obama said their talks were “excellent” and the relationship between the two countries was “extraordinary” and “unbreakable”.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said that reports of the demise of the special relationship between the US and Israel were not just premature, they were “flat wrong”.
In the age of political spin, it is always useful to counter criticism by exaggerating it.
I don't recall any serious commentators saying that relations between Israel and the US were breaking down. Plainly, the links between the two countries are far too strong for that.
It was not simply that Mr Netanyahu appeared to be getting under the skin of Barack Obama in the same way that had alienated Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
The fact is that despite the tableau that was played out at the White House on Tuesday this week, there is plenty of evidence that the relationship between the two countries is changing, even though their political, historical and cultural DNA remains inextricably linked.
The Israeli ambassador in Washington was reported to have briefed his foreign ministry that there was a tectonic rift between the two countries.
Meir Dagan, the boss of Mossad, Israel's secret intelligence service, told a committee in the Israeli parliament said that his country was gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a liability.
A leading strategist in Washington wrote recently: “It is time Israel realised that it has obligations to the United States, as well as the United States to Israel.”
The reason for all this was stated plainly at the start of the year by the US General, David Petraeus.
He said that anti-American sentiment in the Middle East was exacerbated by perceptions of US favouritism towards Israel.
Anyone who has spent time in the Middle East would take that as obvious tending towards the banal.
But to hear it from the mouth of America's favourite general was something else.
When President Obama took office, a calculation seems to have been made that his predecessor President Bush had been over-indulgent to Israel.
Combined with the deadly bungling that followed the invasion of Iraq, it meant that the US policy in the Middle East was harming America's own interests. Something would have to change.
The president appears to be an intellectually consistent man – the word professorial is used about him as a term of abuse by some of his critics in the United States – so unless he has performed a gigantic flip-flop, there is no reason to suppose that his views have been altered by a more civil couple of hours with Mr Netanyahu.
In their statements, they skirted round potential disagreements.
Neither man would give a straight answer to one of this moment's key questions: would Israel continue the partial freeze on the construction of homes for Jews in the occupied Palestinian territories which is due to finish in September?
Half a world away in Finland, Israel's nationalistic foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said it would end.
That is not necessarily definitive, but it reflects a strong view in Mr Netanyahu's coalition.
President Obama avoided the question of extending the partial settlement freeze by saying that well before September the Israel and the Palestinians would be talking face to face.
At the moment all the Americans have to show for 18 months of trying are indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians, in which the US envoy George Mitchell shuttles between Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Big tests lie ahead. In the public part of the meeting at the White House they didn't say much that was new about Iran and their reaction to its nuclear ambitions.
But the most significant unanswered question in the Middle East is still whether Israel will bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.
The Obama Administration has declared that peace in the Middle East is a strategic interest of the United States. It is not close at all at the moment.
But if President Obama is still serious about trying, then he must know that he will need to do some arm-twisting – of his Israeli friends, as well as his enemies.
A judge in Brazil has ordered the arrest of one of the country's top footballers in connection with the disappearance of his ex-mistress.
Bruno Fernandes, goalkeeper for the country's biggest club Flamengo, is being investigated after Eliza Samudio went missing nearly a month ago.
A teenage cousin of the footballer told police she had been abducted and was dead.
Ms Samudio had said that the married footballer was the father of her baby.
A judge in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday ordered that Mr Fernandes be taken into custody while police investigate the case further.
The arrest was also ordered of one of his friends, Luiz Henrique Ferreira Romao.
The warrants were issued after a 17-year-old cousin of Mr Fernandes confessed to police that he had taken part in Ms Samudio's abduction together with Mr Ferreira.
According to police, the youth told them that Ms Samudio was dead but did not say how nor where her body was.
Mr Fernandes's wife, Dayane Souza, has already been detained in connection with the case in the city of Belo Horizonte.
Mr Fernandes told Brazilian radio on Monday he had a “clear conscience. In the future I'll be able to laugh at all this.”
Flamengo, based in Rio de Janeiro, is Brazil's most popular football club.
The eastern US is in the grip of a heatwave which is straining power grids and forcing some residents to seek shelter in city cooling centres.
Soaring temperatures are afflicting areas from Massachusetts to Virginia, with some spots hitting 39.5C (103F).
Heavy energy usage has left thousands of residents along the coast without power.
The heat is already being blamed for at least two deaths.
A 92-year-old woman, who did not have air conditioning, was found dead in her home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The body of a homeless woman was also found lying next to a car on Sunday in Detroit.
Electric companies are urging consumers to cut back on energy use to relieve the stress on the power system.
“In addition to putting stress on people and their health, the intense heat will also place a higher demand on power grids due to increased usage of air conditioning,” AccuWeather.com meteorologist Heather Buchman told the AFP news agency.
She added: “Power outages could result in some communities, putting people at an even greater risk for developing heat-related illnesses.”
But heavy usage has already taxed some power plants and distributors, leaving residents in cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC without power.
In Philadelphia alone, 8,000 of the 1.6 million customers lost power due to increased demand on Tuesday.
Power companies said demand on Tuesday approached record highs set during a heatwave in 2006.
New York City broke the 38.3C (101F) record set on 6 July 1999. The National Weather Service measured 39.5C (103F) in mid-Manhattan on Tuesday.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, also broke their previous record when temperatures rose to 38.9C (102F).
The soaring temperatures are expected to continue throughout much of the week.
Parts of the Midwestern US and Canada have also been affected.
Apple has banned a Vietnamese developer from its app store after he was implicated in fraudulently pushing his titles to its best-seller list.
According to Apple, Thuat Nguyen hacked around 400 iTunes accounts, in order to use their credit card details to boost sales of his comic book apps.
Apple said it had tightened its security as a result of the hack.
It has put fraudulent activity on iTunes into the spotlight.
At one point Mr Nguyen's apps occupied 42 of the top 50 book apps sold.
In a statement Apple said that the developer and his apps have been removed from the iTunes store “for violating the developer Program License Agreement including fraudulent purchase patterns”.
“The iTunes servers were not compromised. An extremely small percentage of users, 400 of the 150 million iTunes users, were impacted,” it said.
It recommended that people worried that their credit card had been stolen should contact their financial institution and change their account password.
Apple said that its iTunes servers were not compromised but it has stepped up security.
It will now ask users to enter their credit card security code more frequently when making purchases on iTunes.
It is not the first time that users have complained about their iTunes accounts being hacked but it is one of the first that an app bought using compromised accounts has dominated the charts.
Amichai Shulman, chief technology officer of security firm Imperva, believes this was Mr Nguyen's biggest mistake.
“It was probably a bogus book and it was just a way to take money from one account and put it in another. If he had kept it out of the top 50 the scam may never have been detected,” he said.
It is likely the details of iTunes accounts were acquired via a phishing attack or from other compromised accounts such as web mail, said Mr Shulman.
“We are seeing a trend for hackers targetting accounts such as iTunes, online poker accounts. You can monetise this kind of account very quickly,” he said.
Amit Klein, the chief technology officer of Trusteer, a company which provides security for online payments, thinks Apple could do more to prevent such breaches.
“Hacks on iTunes are not so rare, there is a constant stream of reports even though they don't make the headlines. Apple could have better fraud detection and interact with iTune users better,” he said.
Not even officers from Israeli security service Shin Bet can escape the scourge of lost luggage it seems.
A bag belonging to agents travelling with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was mistakenly put on a flight from New York to Los Angeles, not to Washington.
Alarmingly the bag contained four 9mm Glock handguns, which are now missing.
A Shin Bet spokesman told the AP news agency that it is not known whether the guns went missing before or after the luggage was put on the wrong flight.
The Israeli officers were accompanying Mr Netanyahu to Washington for White House talks with President Barack Obama.
NBC News reported that the handguns had, in accordance with security procedures at New York's John F Kennedy airport, been placed inside checked luggage.
The luggage was then supposed to be put on a connecting flight to Washington however, American Airlines workers at the airport instead sent it right across the country to LAX in Los Angeles.
By the time the luggage was located and recovered, the guns had disappeared, and are presumed to have been stolen.
Port Authority police in New York are currently investigating whether the weapons went missing before or after the suitcase was transferred to LAX, NBC News has reported.
One source told NBC that the suitcase was inspected and cleared for shipment by Transportation Security Administration screeners who put a seal over the bag at Kennedy Airport.
The Glock 9mm is a powerful semi-automatic used by law enforcement and security organisations around the world.
A British religious activist in Peru is fighting an expulsion order that gives him until Wednesday night to leave the country.
The Peruvian government accuses Paul McAuley of inciting unrest among indigenous people protesting against environmental destruction.
Mr McAuley has appealed against the order.
The Catholic Church and indigenous and human rights groups are supporting his appeal.
Mr McAuley, who is a lay activist with the La Salle Christian Brothers, has lived in Peru for 20 years and received an MBE for his educational work in the capital, Lima.
For the last decade he has worked with indigenous groups in Peru's vast Amazon region, where the current government has eased access for oil and gas companies. While Mr McAuley says he teaches native Peruvians their environmental and human rights, the government in Lima accuses him of political agitation against the Peruvian state.
Cabinet chief Javier Velasquez said that McAuley was being expelled because the government could not “accept that foreigners can continue furtively to stir up people to shatter democratic values”.
Many oil and gas projects in the Amazon have met fierce resistance from indigenous groups.
Residents accuse the government of abusing their land rights and failing to consult them about big investment projects, the BBC's Peru correspondent Dan Collyns says.
Mr McAuley has repeatedly said that oil exploration and logging are threatening to the indigenous population of the Amazon.
He admits that his work might lead to people asking for their rights.
“Education is often accused of inciting people to understand their rights, to be capable or organising themselves to ensure their human rights,” Mr McAuley told the BBC.
“If that's a crime, then yes I'm guilty,” he added. “As a member of a catholic order my life's been dedicated to human and Christian education.”
Amnesty International said the expulsion order appeared “to be one step further in a campaign of intimidation by the government against indigenous communities and human rights defenders who work with them”.
Hundreds of indigenous people have also demonstrated in support of Mr McAuley in Iquitos in the Amazon state of Loreto.
A French court has convicted Panama's former military ruler Manuel Noriega on charges of laundering drug money, sentencing him to seven years in jail.
He had denied taking payments from Colombian drug lords in the 1980s and laundering the money in France.
In April, Noriega was extradited from the US, where he had spent two decades in prison for drug-trafficking.
In 1999, a French court sentenced him to 10 years in his absence, but a fresh trial was held after he was extradited.
The former general was accused of using French banks to conceal profits from the Colombian cocaine trade.
The judge also ordered the seizure of nearly 3m (1.9m) of his assets.
Defence lawyers said the charges were part of a global political plot against Noriega, and that the sentence was too harsh.
Once an informer for the CIA, Noriega was arrested by US troops after their invasion of Panama in 1989.
Anglo-Swiss mining group Xstrata has announced a huge expansion of a copper mine in southern Peru.
Xstrata, now focusing on organic growth rather than takeovers, is investing 1.47bn (1bn) in a project next to its Tintaya mine.
The company says it will boost copper output by 60% and extend the life of the mine by about 20 years.
The investment is part of Xstrata's strategy to boost the group's overall volumes by 50% by 2014.
Existing operations at Tintaya were due to run out of ore in 2012. The new operation is about 10kms away, Xstrata said in a statement.
Construction of the project is due to begin later this year, with the first copper extraction starting in the second half of 2012.
The expansion will boost average production of copper at Tintaya to 160,000 tonnes per year for the first six years.
Analysts said that Xstrata's target to expand copper production by 60% was ambitious. But David Butler, at JP Morgan Cazenove, said in a research note that “we believe Xstrata… can deliver this”.
Last year, Xstrata's total copper output fell 4.8% to 906,898 tonnes.
A lawyer representing a man jailed for spying in Russia says her client might to be exchanged for one of 10 alleged Russian spies being held in the US.
The lawyer told the BBC that Igor Sutyagin, who was convicted of espionage in 2004, had told her he was one of 10 people to be deported by Russia in a reported swap.
There is no official confirmation.
In June, 10 people were arrested in the US on suspicion of working as illegal agents for the Russian government.
An 11th suspect described as a member of the ring was arrested in Cyprus but later went missing after being released on bail.
Sutyagin, a nuclear weapons specialist, is serving a 15-year jail sentence for passing information to a UK firm allegedly used as a front by the CIA.
His lawyer said he had now been moved from a prison colony in the Russian North back to Moscow.
The 11 alleged members of the Russian spy ring in the US are accused of conspiracy to act as unlawful agents of a foreign government, a crime less serious than espionage but which carries up to five years in prison.
Some 18,000 people have left a town in northern Mexico where a nearby dam is threatening to overflow.
Authorities in Ciudad Anahuac opened some of the dam's floodgates to ease pressure but say the situation is still critical.
The region has seen heavy rainfall in the wake of Hurricane Alex which struck last week, leaving 12 people dead.
Officials on both sides of the Mexico-US border are monitoring rising water levels on the Rio Grande.
A bridge linking Laredo in Texas to Nuevo Laredo in Mexico is likely to be closed by midnight local time on Wednesday as the Rio Grande crests.
In some areas, the river is 6m (20ft) above normal.
On Tuesday, residents of Ciudad Anahuac were taken to shelters in nearby towns and cities.
The Venustiano Carranza dam, which is located 70km (43 miles) away, is full after several days of heavy rain following Hurricane Alex.
Authorities have opened 20 floodgates, releasing 600 cubic metres per second into the Salado River, a tributary of the Rio Grande.
“It was preferable to have controlled flooding than having the whole town disappear,” the town's mayor, Santos Garza Garcia, told the Associated Press. “The situation is still very critical.”
North-eastern Mexico has suffered widespread flooding over the past week.
The usually dry Santa Catarina river that runs through the centre of Monterrey turned into a raging torrent, flooding major highways and paralysing Mexico's third-biggest city.
A week on, some 130,000 people remained without drinking water.
“We are working without pause to try to re-establish water services,” said Rodrigo Medina, the governor of Nuevo Leon state.
The International Boundary and Water Commission, a bi-national body, has also been releasing floodwaters from the Amistad Dam into the Rio Grande at the rate of 35,000 cubic feet per second (1,000 cubic metres per second).
Officials said releases from the dam, which is located by the border at Del Rio in Texas and Ciudad Acuna in the Mexican state of Coahuila, were likely to continue for days to come.
The IBWC is urging people who live in the Rio Grande Basin to monitor conditions for possible flooding.
Alex was the first hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic season, and the first to appear in June since 1995.
Shares in electric car firm Tesla have fallen below their offer price, a week after trading began in New York.
The shares hit a low of 15.83 during Tuesday's trading, dipping under the offer price of 17 for the first time since their debut on 29 June.
The loss-making producer of the 100,000 Roadster enjoyed a strong start last week.
Shares proved popular with investors, hitting a high of 23.89 on the first day.
Analysts put the fall in the niche firm's shares down to persistent nervousness about the faltering nature of economic recovery around the world.
Its initial sale of shares raised 226m (150m) from investors, 40m more than had been predicted.
It was the first US car company to float since Ford went public in 1956.
The US's leading space contractor is to cut the jobs of more than 1,000 of the world's leading scientists and technicians after Nasa ended its space shuttle programme.
United Space Alliance, which manages the shuttle fleet and handles Nasa's International Space Station, said most jobs would go in Florida and Texas.
Two shuttle missions remain, which are scheduled to be completed by 2011.
The job cuts represent about 15% of the workforce, with more cuts expected.
“People being laid off now is just the beginning. Many more thousands will be laid of as the shuttle programme is wound down,” Keith Cowing, the editor of space specialist website Nasa Watch, told the BBC World Service.
United Space Alliance is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The space shuttle has enjoyed a recent run of success, launching eight flights in 14 months, with the staff setting records for the rapid processing of shuttles and the lowest numbers of in-flight anomalies.
Last month, John Shannon, the manager of the space shuttle programme, wrote to employees saying: “I am extremely proud of how all of you are maintaining your focus and completing the incredible legacy of the programme.”
But with so many scientists, technicians and aerospace experts looking for work, Mr Cowling said the prospect of them getting work at private companies that launch satellites were slim.
“The whole idea behind private sector companies is that they can do it cheaper and with a lot more automation than the space shuttle programme used,” he said.
“So sort of by definition they can do it cheaper and make a profit by using less people,”
Because these leading space experts have worked with top secret technology makes it very unlikely that they would be allowed to work for foreign companies, he added.
Boeing and Lockheed Martin do not have any plans to transfer them to other departments of their aerospace businesses.
Nasa intends to make the last shuttle flight next February, although several factors could delay that plan.
The US government has asked BP to be told of any major asset sales or merger deals in advance, as it continues to keep a close eye on the oil giant.
The highly unusual request came in a letter from the US Department of Justice dated 23 June.
BP told the BBC it had yet to respond to the letter.
The company is facing massive clean-up costs and compensation claims as a result of the Gulf of Mexico oil leak, which began in April.
The US government has been highly critical of BP's handling of the oil leak.
Congressmen have accused chief executive Tony Hayward of not taking responsibility, while questioning him about alleged cost-cutting measures that could have contributed to the leak.
In its latest update, BP said the oil leak had now cost it 3.12bn (2bn), though the total cost is forecast by analysts to be tens of billions of dollars.
As a result, it has said it will look at selling some assets and attracting new investors.
There has been a great deal of speculation in recent days about potential investors in BP, including the Kuwaiti Investment Authority, China's PetroChina and the US oil giant Exxon Mobil.
These reports, as well as statements from BP saying the company has no plans to issue new shares, have helped the company's share price to rally this week.
But despite the bounce, BP's shares have almost halved in value since the explosion on the Deep Horizon oil rig triggered the leak on 20 April.
Oil is continuing to spill into the Gulf and BP has said two relief wells being drilled to stop the leak are on course for completion by August.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez says a suspected Colombian drug baron has been arrested in Caracas and will be extradited to the US.
Carlos Alberto Renteria – also known as Beto – allegedly headed Colombia's Norte del Valle drug cartel.
US authorities accuse him of smuggling 500 tonnes of cocaine to the US in the 1990s.
He has been on a US wanted list since 2004 and a 5m (3.3m) reward has been offered for his capture.
Correspondents say US and Colombian officials have often accused Mr Chavez's government of allowing Venezuela to become a haven for Colombian drug lords.
However, Venezuela says that so far this year it has deported 10 suspects sought by different countries on drug-related charges.
“We've captured a new drug trafficking boss, Carlos Alberto Renteria, aka 'Beto Renteria,' aka 'the godfather'… we caught him yesterday (Monday) here in Caracas. We're going to send him to… the United States,” President Chavez told reporters during a cabinet meeting.
He said Mr Renteria could be extradited as soon as Wednesday.
During its heyday in the 1990s, the Norte del Valle cartel was one of the most powerful in Colombia, believed to have exported more cocaine to the US than any other organisation.
Mr Renteria is believed to be the last remaining leader of the cartel to be captured.
Thirteen Colombian rebels have been killed in an aerial bombardment, among them two leaders.
The guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) were trying to retake a strategic mountain area near the Caribbean coast when they were attacked.
They were sent on the operation by the movement's number two leader, Ivan Marquez, believed to be in Venezuela.
Colombia's president said the operation was a “message” to the Farc leader.
The images of the bombardment show a swathe of jungle flattened and blackened where the planes of the Colombian air force bombed a Farc camp in the Montes de Maria, in the Caribbean province of Bolivar.
The Farc guerrillas were seeking to re-establish their presence in the area, which overlooks the city of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast.
Colombian intelligence sources said that the rebels had been sent by Ivan Marquez, a member of the Farc's seven-man ruling secretariat, and head of the rebels' International Front, which handles the guerrillas' foreign affairs.
President Alvaro Uribe, who has made a relentless war on the Farc the hallmark of his two administrations, sent a message to the rebel leader Ivan Marquez, whom he described as the “diplomat of terror”.
“We know where Ivan Marquez is,” the president said and told him that the military operation was “a message to him” and Farc plans to retake parts of Colombia.