,

Venezuela Deports Purported Prominent Colombia Drug Lord

BOGOTA, Colombia — Venezuelan authorities deported a prominent drug-trafficking suspect to Colombia on Wednesday, nearly two months after his capture at a payphone in an operation aided by Colombian and U.S. authorities.

Officials called Daniel Barrera one of Colombia’s most-wanted drug lords. The bearded Barrera was handcuffed and said nothing as he stepped down from a police plane that brought him and five other drug suspects from Venezuela.

Barrera is to be extradited to the United States, a process that could take months, said Colombia’s National Police director, Gen. Jose Roberto Leon, who spoke at the airport where the suspects arrived. He said Barrera would be jailed in Bogota while awaiting extradition.

The Colombian had a false passport when he was captured Sept. 18 in the southwestern Venezuelan city of San Cristobal, Venezuelan Justice Minister Nestor Reverol said at Caracas’ airport as the suspects were led to a plane.

Barrera is known as “El Loco,” or “The Madman,” and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has called him “the last of the great capos.”

Barrera was arrested after Colombian officials, who were working with U.S. and British authorities, notified Venezuela that Barrera was making a call from one of dozens of public phones that were being monitored, officials said. He was arrested at the payphone in front of a church.

Colombia police say Barrera had been in Venezuela since 2008 and had badly burned his fingers to erase his fingerprints and hide his identity.

Colombian police had offered a reward of about $2.5 million for information leading to his arrest.

Investigators have determined that Barrera owned about 127 properties and vehicles in Venezuela, including seven ranches, 16 apartments, 17 houses, 48 vehicles, a plane, a boat, 19 offices and four inns, Reverol told reporters. He said that all together they are valued at an estimated 143 million bolivars, or $33 million.

Eleven other people also have been detained for their links to Barrera, and five others are wanted, Reverol said.

U.S. and Colombian officials have alleged that Barrera’s gang supplies cocaine to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, which ships drugs to the United States.

The authorities have said Barrera operated in a swath of eastern Colombia including areas along the border in Venezuela, and had a drug smuggling alliance with rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC.

Last year, U.S. authorities in Miami charged Barrera with illegal association to smuggle cocaine into the United States.

According to a 2010 grand jury indictment in U.S. District Court in New York, Barrera was both manufacturing and trafficking drugs on a large scale, buying raw cocaine paste from FARC rebels and converting it into cocaine at his labs in eastern Colombia. The indictment said that amounted to as much as 400 tons a year and that Barrera then arranged shipment of the drugs through Colombia and Venezuela to the United States, Europe and Africa.

Six other drug suspects were handed over to Colombian authorities Wednesday, included Jorge Cifuentes Villa and Eduardo Acosta Mejia.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Today Colombia than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organizations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our site as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. Updating reports on Today Colombia takes a lot of time, money and hard work. But we do it because we believe our reports matter.
If everyone who reads Today Colombia, who likes it, helps to support it by clicking our ads, our future would be much more secure. Do you part, click on an ad today.

Written by Rico

Rico

"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of onlinemagazines that includes TodayColombia.com. Rico brings his special kind of savvy to online marketing. His websites are engaging, provocative, informative and sometimes off the wall, where you either like or you leave it. The same goes for him, like him or leave him.There is no middle ground. No compromises, only a passion to present reality as he sees it!