Thailand extradites drug ring suspects to US

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BANGKOK (AP) - Five men wanted for allegedly conspiring to smuggle cocaine as part of an international criminal network were extradited from Thailand to the United States on Tuesday, officials said.

The two Britons, one Slovak, one Filipino and one Taiwanese were escorted by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents on a chartered flight from Bangkok's Don Muang Airport, Thai Police Gen. Somyot Pumpanmuang said.

Somyot said they were suspected accomplices of their alleged ringleader, 48-year-old Joseph Hunter, who was arrested in the same sting operation in September on the resort island of Phuket. Federal authorities said the former U.S. soldier ran a murder-for-hire organization.

Hunter was expelled by Thai authorities, and charged in New York with conspiracy to kill a DEA agent in addition to the drug charges. Federal authorities said the former U.S. soldier ran a murder-for-hire organization.

Two other former soldiers, an American and a German, were also sent to New York and charged with conspiracy to murder after being arrested in Liberia, the venue for the alleged killing plot.

Two other alleged members of the gang, former soldiers from Poland and Germany, were indicted on the drug charges and arrested in Estonia.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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