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U.S. Charges Former Colombian General With Helping Major Drug Traffickers

The United States has indicted a former police general who worked as a security chief for former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe.

Ex-Gen. Mauricio Santoyo Velasco is charged with helping major drug traffickers evade the law to import cocaine into the United States. The AP reports Velasco was also on the traffickers' payroll.

The wire service adds:

"Ex-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

"His alleged crimes were committed from about 2000 to November 2008, according to the indictment, which describes them as a wholesale betrayal of counterdrug operations by Colombian, U.S. and British law enforcement."

After hearing the news, Uribe tweeted he hoped Santoyo and the police would explain themselves. "I always respected the internal decisions the police made about my protection," Uribe tweeted.

According to the AP, Santoyo's whereabouts are unknown.

Radio Caracol, the Colombian news outlet, spoke to political scientist Juan Manuel Charry, who said this case rings an alarm inside the police force.

"This is a very delicate situation in a police general is accused of drug trafficking. It's alarm that means the the civil defense must take action."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.