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Question of the Day
BOGOTA, Colombia — A retired Colombian police general who was security chief for former President Alvaro Uribe from 2002 to 2006 betrayed international counternarcotics operations for nearly a decade while on the payroll of major drug traffickers, according to a newly unsealed U.S. indictment.
Former Gen. Mauricio Santoyo Velasco is charged with conspiracy to export cocaine to the United States in collusion with far-right paramilitary bosses and with a collection agency of sorts run by drug traffickers that hired assassins and kidnapped and extorted, chiefly to collect debts.
Gen. Santoyo Velasco’s alleged crimes were committed from about 2000 to November 2008, according to the indictment, which details an alleged wholesale betrayal of counterdrug operations by Colombian, U.S. and British law enforcement.
Gen. Santoyo Velasco’s whereabouts could not immediately be determined.
A senior official in Colombia’s chief prosecutor’s office said no arrest warrant has been issued for Gen. Santoyo Velasco. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Mr. Uribe told the Associated Press via a text message Monday that he would have no further comment beyond a tweet a day earlier saying he hoped “Santoyo and the police institution would explain the case.”
Mr. Uribe, who left office in 2010, was immensely popular for security gains during his government, but has been dogged by corruption and domestic spying scandals involving close associates.
The May 24 indictment handed up by an eastern Virginia grand jury and unsealed last week alleges that Gen. Santoyo Velasco received “substantial bribes” in exchange for:
• Tipping off the traffickers to ongoing drug-trafficking investigations as well as wiretaps targeting them.
• Promising to “facilitate the transfer of corrupt police officers, who would further assist these drug traffickers in their business.”
• Notifying traffickers of upcoming arrest operations, including joint Colombian investigations with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
• Conducting unauthorized wiretaps on behalf of the traffickers.
• Providing intelligence collected by Colombian law enforcement to drug traffickers, including on people later targeted to be killed by the traffickers.
A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride declined to comment on the indictment Monday.
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