Key Colombian drug lord captured
BOGATA, Sept 19 — One of Colombia’s most wanted drug traffickers was captured in neighbouring Venezuela yesterday with the help of Caracas as well as British and US intelligence agencies, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said.
Colombia is one of the world’s top producers of cocaine, and criminal gangs composed of former right-wing paramilitary groups and old cartels have become a major emerging threat to the nation of 46 million people.
Daniel Barrera, known as “Crazy Barrera”, was captured across the border in San Cristobal, Venezuela, in an operation that was directed from Washington by a Colombian police general, Santos said in a televised speech.
“Crazy Barrera has been, perhaps, the most wanted kingpin in recent times.
“He has dedicated 20 years to doing bad things to Colombia and the world, all types of crime, perverse alliances with paramilitaries, with the FARC (rebel group),” Santos said.
Barrera had a US$5 million (RM15 million) bounty on his head from the United States and US$2.7 million from Colombia’s government.
Santos thanked US and British intelligence agencies as well as Venezuela’s government for their help.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been one of the fiercest critics in Latin America of US and Western foreign policy.
Santos did not give any more details on the operation. Venezuela’s government summoned reporters for a press conference today to discuss Barrera’s capture.
Santos has forged a friendship with Chavez since the Colombian leader took power in 2010.
Santos is due to meet Chavez’s election rival, Henrique Capriles, in Bogota today.
While bloodshed from Colombia’s long guerrilla and drug wars has dropped since a US-backed offensive began more than a decade ago, bombings, murders and combat continue, mainly in the country’s frontier areas.
The decline in violence has attracted billions of dollars in foreign investment mainly to Colombia’s mining and oil sectors, which has allowed the country to boost crude and coal output to historic highs. — Reuters