Latin America & Caribbean

Thirty-six seized in Colombia anti-drug operation

Colombian Attorney-General Vivian Morales, President Juan Manuel Santos and Florida Southern District Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer
Image caption President Santos (centre) celebrated the arrests at a news conference

Thirty-six suspects have been arrested in two operations against drug-trafficking in Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos has said.

Nineteen other suspects were arrested a few days ago. The president said they were all wanted in the US.

The operations were carried out jointly with the US.

The authorities seized large amounts of drugs, 21 light aircraft and submarines used to transport the drugs to Central America, to be taken to the US.

The gang is said to have been capable of exporting 10 tonnes of cocaine per month to the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico.

"The operation with the American authorities should relieve some of the violence and drug trafficking in Central America and Mexico," said the head of the Colombian police, General Oscar Naranjo.

He said among the suspects were "four big shots".

However, the head of the criminal organisation, Daniel (El Loco) Barrera, remains at large. He is one of Colombia's most wanted traffickers and the authorities are offering a reward of more than $2m for him.

A US attorney from a district in Florida, Wilfredo Ferrer, who was at the news conference in Bogota, praised the cooperation between the authorities of both countries.

"Our common goal is simple: target the leadership of the criminal gangs, dismantle their narco-trafficking operations, and eliminate the threat they pose to the security of the region and the international community," he said.

A new generation of drug-traffickers in Colombia is working hand in hand with the Mexican drug cartels, hoping to fill the void left by the dismantled North of Valle and Cali cartels.

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