Nineteen people accused of stealing $17.1 million from the state have been captured and will face charges, according to Colombia’s president.

The alleged embezzlers logged false tax receipts and kept the proceeds, said President Juan Manuel Santos, speaking from the northern Colombian city of Cartagena on Thursday.

“I hope the corrupt [officials] who stole from the state rot in jail,” he said. “They stole from the Colombian people. We will make more arrests. This is just the tip of the corruption iceberg.”

According to President Santos, the thefts were discovered during the ”Mercury 2″ anti-corruption operation led by police and members of the Prosecutor General’s Office.

He added that some of the accused were officials in Colombia’s national tax and Customs Directorate (DIAN).

In 2011, a similar case — which still has yet to be resolved — brought 13 DIAN officials to court for multimillion dollar tax fraud.

MORE: 12 plead innocent in tax embezzlement trial 


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