Colombia captures last drug lord in Venezuela

Colombia captures last drug lord in Venezuela

BOGOTO- Agence France-Presse
Colombia said that Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, alleged to be the country’s last major drug lord, had been caught in neighboring Venezuela in an international sting led from Washington.

“The last of the great capos has fallen,” President Juan Manuel Santos announced Sept. 18 on national television, adding that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Britain’s MI6 intelligence service had provided support.

Barrera, whose outfit is estimated to have sent more than 900 tons of cocaine to the United States and Europe, was caught in the Venezuelan city of San Cristobal after months of multinational cooperation that included help from the United States and other nations, said Santos, adding that the drug lord had criminal ties to FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebels and paramilitaries.

“This is perhaps the most important capture of recent times,” the president said, thanking the Venezuelan government for its help.

Venezuelan Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami confirmed the arrest on Twitter, calling it a “major coup” for his country and adding that “images” and “details of the operation” would be released.

President Santos said the operation “was led from Washington,” adding that the head of Colombia’s national police, General Jose Leon Riano, had helped direct it from the U.S. capital. On the other hand Venezuela’s foreign ministry said Barrera was captured “after an intelligence operation carried out by Venezuelan authorities,” without mentioning any foreign involvement. Speaking from Washington, Leon Riano told the Caracol television network that authorities had tracked Barrera for four months before arresting him at a phone booth in San Cristobal. He added that the operation had been orchestrated from Washington because it required “special technical support.”

In 2010 the U.S. Treasury had named Barrera a “special designated narcotics trafficker,” saying he
faced criminal charges in New York and was allied with the FARC, Latin America’s longest-running insurgency.