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Blog del Narco: Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, Notorious Colombian Drug Lord Captured in Venezuela
Photo: Daniel "El Loco" Barrera
Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, described by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos as the last of his country’s major drug traffickers, has been captured in Venezuela.
In a radio and television address Tuesday night, Santos said the arrest was made in the western Venezuelan city of San Cristobal in a multinational operation in which the United States and Britain also provided support.
“I want to thank the Venezuelan government, President (Hugo) Chavez and his team for this great collaboration,” Santos said.
He hailed the role the neighboring country played in capturing the suspect, described by intelligence agencies as Colombia’s most powerful drug trafficker in the past 10 years.
Santos, who was joined by Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon, said Barrera had links to right-wing paramilitary groups, leftist guerrillas and other drug-trafficking outfits.
“He has spent 20 years doing harm to Colombia and the world. He had perverse alliances with paramilitaries, with the FARC (Colombia’s largest leftist guerrilla group), with drug trafficking” gangs, Santos said.
“He was the boss of alias ‘Cuchillo’ (Pedro Oliverio Guerrero, killed nearly two years ago in clashes with security forces in southeastern Colombia) and was the one who replaced Miguel Arroyave as the head of that chain of criminality that operated in the eastern part of the country,” Santos said.
“It’s perhaps the biggest capture of a capo in recent times.”
Santos did not say when the operation unfolded but noted that British intelligence and the CIA provided support and that it was coordinated by the head of Colombia’s National Police, Gen. Jose Roberto Leon Riaño.
The president said the drug trafficker had “a very extensive criminal record” and confessed his identity to Venezuelan authorities.
The Colombian government had offered a reward of $2.5 million for information leading to his capture.
Gen. Riaño, currently on a visit in Washington, told Colombian radio that Barrera “was captured in a telephone booth.”
After the demobilization of the 31,000-strong AUC paramilitary federation between the end of 2003 and mid-2006 during the administration of Santos’ predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, Barrera and “Cuchillo” became the most powerful drug traffickers in Colombia’s Llanos Orientales (Eastern Plains) region.
The two capos unleashed a bloody war against Arroyave - killed in 2004 - for control of cocaine-smuggling routes.