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Drug Traffickers Threaten To Kill Two U.S. Missionaries

January 6, 1989 GMT

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ A note found at the site where two U.S. missionaries were kidnapped said drug traffickers will kill them if Colombians are extradited to the United States to face drug charges, an official said.

The missionaries, kidnapped Tuesday night, had received threats and knew they lived in a dangerous area, a relative in the United States said today.

Hector Pardo, spokesman for the Colombian Evangelical Federations, said the missionaries - Richard Grover, 50, of Warroad, Minn., and Roy Libby, 50, of Atlanta - were being held by drug traffickers who threatened to kill one of them for every Colombian extradited to the United States to face drug charges.


Their kidnappers also have demanded the release of Carlos Lehder Rivas, an extradited drug kingpin sentenced to life imprisonment without parole last year in the United States, said Pardo.

Grover and Libby were kidnapped by about 10 men dressed in military uniforms as they attended a meeting of evangelists in La Florida village, 180 miles southwest of Bogota, he said.

″The kidnappers came into the meeting and demanded money, and they didn’t have any money to give them. So they took the two missionaries. They (authorities) haven’t heard a word since then,″ said Grover’s sister, Connie Wold of Thief River Falls, Minn.

Ms. Wold said drug traffickers had threatened her brother before and he knew he lived in a dangerous area.

Pardo also said a Norwegian-Colombian missionary, Bruce Olson, was abducted by leftist guerrillas in September and is still alive.

Olson, whose mother and brother live in St. Paul, Minn., was kidnapped while working with the Motilone tribe on the Venezuelan border, Pardo said.

Olson became a Colombian citizen last year, Pardo said.

A note found at the spot where Grover and Libby were abducted said one American would be killed for every Colombian extradited to the United States to face drug charges, Pardo said in a telephone interview. Libby has lived in Colombia 20 years and Grover has lived here 10 years, he said.

Colombian security forces for seven years have said that leftist guerrillas are involved in drug trafficking but have never produced evidence.

Raids on drug traffickers hideouts have turned up dozens of police and army uniforms and other disguises.


Colombia extradited 14 Colombians to the United States to face drug trafficking charges under a 1979 treaty. But none has been extradited since the Colombian Supreme Court negated the treaty on a constitutional technicality last April.

Seven years ago, before security forces began alleging guerrilla involvement in drug trafficking, insurgents kidnapped and killed American missionary Chester Bitterman in Bogota. There were 600 kidnappings in Colombia last year, most of them by leftist guerrillas.

In July, Lehder Rivas was sentenced in Jacksonville, Fla., to 135 years in prison and fined $350,000 for smuggling tons of cocaine into the United States.

He was a leader of the Medellin cartel, a major cocaine-smuggling organization. He was arrested and sent to the United States in 1987 after a gun battle at his mansion in Medellin.