In this article of FOX UP's This Week in U.P. History we go back to 1992, and remember how an Upper Peninsula girl became connected to an international story.
On the week of April 2, 1992, a U.S. federal court case began against former Panimanian Military General Manuel Noriega. In 1988, the United States indicted Noriega on charges of cocaine trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering.
Noriega became connected to the U.P. that year, when a 10-year-old Negaunee girl named Sarah York, began writing to him after seeing a report about him.
The two became pen pals, and in October 1989 Noriega invited York and her family to take an all-expenses-paid trip to Panama. York and her mother Paulie went on the trip, they met Noriega and were given a tour of the country by him.
In 1992, York pledged to remain close with Noriega no matter the outcome of his trial.
"I'm not going to stop writing to him of they say he's guilty," said York. "I'm still going to write to him and be his friend."
Noriega was convicted of cocaine trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering. He served 17 years in U.S. prison and was extradited to France.
In 2011, France agreed to extradite Noriega to Panama, where he was convicted for the murder of political opponents.
He is currently serving three 20-year prison terms.