Narco brothers ‘Benny’ and ‘Angel’ extradited from Spain to USA

Two Pakistani brothers have been extradited to New York to face charges that they conspired to smuggle heroin into America and sell missile launchers to Colombian rebels, prosecutors said.

Narco brothers 'Benny' and 'Angel' extradited from Spain to USA
The two men were extradited from Spain to face charges in the US

Hameed Chishti, 47, nicknamed Benny, and Wahab Chishti, 49, also known as Angel, were flown to the United States from Spain last Friday, more than a year after their arrest at American officials' request.

If convicted on all charges, they face between 25 years to life behind bars in an American prison.

They are charged with conspiring to commit narco-terrorism, to provide support to the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), to import heroin into the United States and unlawfully sell missile launchers.

Prosecutors allege that the brothers agreed to sell heroin to people they believed were FARC, but who were actually undercover informants, thinking it would be smuggled into the United States.

In April 2014, the Chishtis allegedly arranged delivery of a one-kilo heroin sample to presumed FARC cronies in the Netherlands.

They then agreed to sell them weapons after the alleged FARC members claimed to want to buy Russian-made surface-to-air missiles to protect their drug-trafficking empire in Colombia.

After Hameed Chishti forwarded bank account details for payment for the missiles, the brothers were arrested in June 2014 in Spain, where they lived, prosecutors said.

They appeared before a US magistrate on Friday as prosecutors seek the extradition of two more defendants from Spain – delayed because they are seeking asylum.

The Chishtis “illustrate once again that drug trafficking and terror conspiracies often intersect, support, and facilitate each other's dangerous and potential deadly plots,” said Mark Hamlet, the Drug Enforcement Administration special agent in charge.

The United States declared FARC a terrorist organization in 1997.

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Danish biotech firm starts human trials for new Covid drug

The Danish biotech company Union Therapeutics has been given the go-ahead to begin clinical trials on humans for its coronavirus medicine which early studies show is more than 40 times more effective than Remdesivir.

Danish biotech firm starts human trials for new Covid drug
Niclosamide is one of hundreds of promising new drugs. Sorrento Therapeutics in San Diego, California, is working on an antibody drug. Reuters/Scanpix/Bing Guan
Dr Rasmus Toft-Kehler, chief executive and co-founder of the company, credited the “amazing period” that saw the medicine rushed through preliminary trials. 
“The team, including all stakeholders, partners… and not least regulatory authorities, have acted with passion and in concert to advance UNI911 at an incredible pace,” he said in a press statement.
“We are honoured to be part of this venture and excited to be at the cusp of initiating clinical studies with the ultimate goal of making a differentiated product available for patients in need”.
The drug UNI911, or niclosamide, will be tested at the Zelo Phase I Unit at Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hopsital and at the Center for Physical Activity Research at Rigshospitalet. 
“It is a drug that can kill the virus and prevent it from dividing inside the body,” Morten Sommer, a professor at DTU Biosustain and the co-founder of Union, told TV2
“Previously, it has been used to treat bowel diseases such as tapeworms, but we have found out how the drug can come out and work elsewhere in the body.” 
In studies from South Korea, niclosamide has proven 40 times more potent than the drug Remdesivir, which has otherwise been considered the most effective drug for treating Covid-19.
Sommer expects the development of the drug to move into the second phase this autumn. 
“It is still early in the process, but we think the characteristic we have seen of the drug seem really promising, and if the results continue to come in, we hope that it has great opportunity to contribute to the treatment of both Covid-19 and also other similar diseases.”