FARC leader arrested in Bogotá on a U.S. request for drug trafficking

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12 April, 2018

"The attorney general has informed me that, as the result of rigorous investigation, he has forceful and conclusive proof that show the responsibility of Seusis Hernandez, known as Jesus Santrich, for drug trafficking crimes committed after the accord was signed", Santos said, referring to the 2016 peace deal to end more than five decades of conflict between the FARC and the Columbian government.

Since then, the FARC has disarmed and transformed itself into a political party, swapping its crossed-rifles emblem for a red rose.

More than 100 former rebels and FARC sympathizers gathered late Monday outside the heavily guarded prosecutors' bunker where the 51-year-old Santrich was being held. Waving white flags combined with the crimson improved emblem of their prior rebels' political move, a few shouted "freedom" and denounced what they called an action of judicial sabotage by the us government along with its particular USA backers. Inside, Santrich was believed to have initiated a hunger strike to demand his release, according to his lawyer.

President Juan Manuel Santos defended the arrest to the US merit as vital to manage the credibility of the calmness, which Colombians overwhelmingly believe overly generous to rebels responsible for atrocities perpetrated during five years of damn, armed battle.

After his arrest, the president, Juan Manuel Santos, asserted in a televised speech that the Prosecutor's Office had evidence of the accusation and that if after the due process the Supreme Court of Justice endorsed the fiscal decision, his hand would not shake to extradite him to the United States. "It's a very bad message for the Colombian people, for the former combatants and for the peace that our country so badly needs". In this aspect, there can't be any room for tolerance or weakness'.

Santrich, who joined the guerrilla movement within his 20s and gradually climbed to its principal control structure, was among those earliest rebel leaders to wager on peace.

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But Chief Prosecutor Nestor Martinez said a NY grand jury handed down an indictment after evaluating evidence, including videos and communications, that indicated Santrich and three other co-conspirators who were also arrested hatched a plan in the second half of 2017 to smuggle into the USA cocaine with a street value of $320 million.

According to an Interpol notice, Santrich met with cocaine buyers at his residence on November 2, 2017 - a day after one of his co-conspirators delivered a 5-kilogram sample of the narcotic to them at a hotel lobby in Bogota.

During the meeting and subsequent negotiations, he and his co-conspirators allegedly discussed plans for a ten-ton drug shipment to the USA, boasting they had access to cocaine laboratories and US -registered planes to produce and transport the drugs inside Colombia, the world's largest producer of the illegal narcotic. It provided a copy of part of a Colombian search warrant that said authorities raided his home in Bogota at the request of the U.S. Embassy.

Santrich was a member of the FARC's central high command, the members of which were indicted on drug trafficking charges by the U.S.in 2006. "Who commits a crime after the signing of the final agreement, will be submitted to the ordinary jurisdiction for new crimes committed", he added.

"The senior leadership never cut ties into the cocaine manufacturing that brought them billions as a insurgence", said Douglas Farrah, " a senior visiting fellow at the National Defense University that has sentenced into the U.S. Congress around the FARC's criminal ties.

Even the FARC extended financed their insurgency by leveling a "war tax" on cocaine proceeding through land the rebels dominated.


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