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Colombian drug lord 'Crazy Barrera' arrested

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 19th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Daniel Barrera, popularly known as "Crazy Barrera," one of Colombia's most dreaded drug lords has finally been captured in neighboring Venezuela. Caracas intelligence, aided and abetted by British and U.S. intelligence agencies helped in his capture, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Authorities had been closing in on Crazy Barrera in recent weeks, arresting 36 members of his gang and seizing five tons of cocaine and 21 aircraft.

"Crazy Barrera has been perhaps the most wanted kingpin in recent times," Santos said. "He has dedicated 20 years to doing bad things to Colombia and the world, all types of crime, perverse alliances with paramilitaries, with the FARC (rebel group)."

President Santos said Barrera was captured in the Venezuelan city of San Cristobal, about 15 miles from the Colombian border. In a televised speech, Santos said that the operation was directed from Washington by a Colombian police general.

Barrera's smuggling ring was capable of sending 10 tons of cocaine a month to Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, the most powerful organized crime gang in the Americas.

Barrera had a $5 million bounty on his head from the United States and $2.7 million from the Colombian government.

Santos thanked the U.S. and British intelligence agencies in addition to Venezuela President Hugo Chavez's government for their assistance.

Chavez's issued a brief statement hailing the operation as proof of Venezuela's "indomitable will" in the ongoing war against drug trafficking.

"(Venezuela) ratifies its determination to continue with a sovereign policy in this battle, whose results can be seen by the international community," the Foreign Ministry said.

In an odd turn of events, the Venezuelan government's statement did not mention the involvement of U.S., British or Colombian agents. According to Venezuelan officials, Barrera was captured by Venezuelan forces.

The apparent "snub" was not altogether surprising, given Chavez's frequent verbal attacks on the role of Western "imperialist" governments in Latin America.

Chavez had previously expelled U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials from Venezuela in 2005 following accusations of spying. Chaves says his government has greatly increased its number of arrests of traffickers and its seizures of drugs since then.

Santos has forged a friendship with the socialist leader since Colombia's president took power in 2010. He has touted previous arrests of other Colombian traffickers in Venezuela as proof that he and Chavez's ideologically opposed governments are united against organized crime.

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