LATIN AMERICA

US grand jury indicts former Colombian police general

Mauricio Santoyo Velasco was President Álvaro Urbies chief of security First high-ranking officer to be indicted on drug charges in Colombia

Bogotá -
A 2007 photo of Mauricio Santoyo Velasco.
A 2007 photo of Mauricio Santoyo Velasco.AP

A federal grand jury in Virginia has indicted a former top-ranking Colombian police general on charges that he helped traffickers connected to paramilitary groups in his country ship narcotics to the US through Central America.

The May 24 indictment, which was unsealed on Monday, alleges that Mauricio Santoyo Velasco, who served as former President Álvaro Uribe's chief of security from 2002-2005, cooperated with illegal groups - including the Office of Envigado, an organization of traffickers and hit men - and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.

It marks the first time in the history of the Colombian police that a high-ranking officer has been indicted on drug charges. Washington is asking for Santoyo's extradition.

The former general, whose whereabouts are unknown, issued a statement on Monday saying that he found out about the indictment through the media and was willing "to clear up any allegations made against me." On his Twitter feed, Uribe said he had never had anything to do with Santoyo's promotions in the force.

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