Photo: Mauricio Santoyo turned himself into the DEA this morning
A retired Colombian police general who was a top aide to former President Alvaro Uribe gave himself up Tuesday to agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to answer charges he colluded with traffickers.
The director of the National Police, Gen. Jose Roberto Leon Riaño, told a press conference that Mauricio Santoyo left Bogota around 8:00 a.m. aboard a DEA plane bound for Washington.
“The word is that he contacted the American authorities. He traveled having taken all the steps necessary to leave the country. What we know right now is that he traveled with a special permit and a kind of temporary visa issued him by U.S. authorities,” Leon Riaño said.
Santoyo is accused of having sold information from Colombian, British and U.S. intelligence agencies to drug cartels and the now-defunct AUC federation of rightist militias.
According to the daily El Espectador, Santoyos’ attorneys began making contact this weekend with Colombian police and the U.S. Embassy in Bogota.
The investigation of Santoyo was set in motion by the statements of three erstwhile AUC commanders extradited to the United States - Salvatore Mancuso, Juan Carlos Sierra and Carlos Mario Jimenez - who implicated him in a string of illegal activities.
Santoyo met Uribe in 1995 when he was part of the police anti-kidnapping unit, later provided security during his electoral campaign and served him in his first presidential administration, from 2002-2006.
Uribe defended his former aide’s good service when he learned of the accusation, and over the past few days recommended on Twitter that Santoyo give himself up to U.S. authorities as soon as possible.