Colombian Officials Arrest Former Rebel Leader on US Drug Warrant

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According to a Interpol note, Santrich satisfied with cocaine purchasers at his residence November two, 2017 - a day after one of his co conspirators sent a 5-kilogram sample of their reverted into them at a resort lobby in Bogota.

The arrest of a former FARC negotiator on drug charges could damage the group's landmark peace deal with the Colombian government as it enters its "most critical point", a spokesman for the former rebel group warned Tuesday.

A USA indictment accuses Santrich and three others of conspiring to distribute 10,000 kilograms of cocaine with a wholesale value of $15 million in the United States and purporting to have access to drug labs and US -registered planes for transport.

He had been selected to serve in the Colombian congress due to a stipulation in the peace accord that granted 10 parliamentary seats to the newly formed FARC political party.

A day after the surprise arrest of Seuxis Hernandez, best known by the alias Jesus Santrich, opponents of the peace accord urged authorities to investigate other leaders of the disbanded FARC rebel army for any ties to the drug trade.

President Juan Manuel Santos defended the arrest on a US warrant as necessary to maintain the credibility of the peace accord, which Colombians overwhelmingly consider too generous to rebels responsible for atrocities committed during five decades of bloody, armed conflict.

Under terms of the accord aimed at ending Latin America's longest-running conflict, rebels who lay down their weapons and confess their war crimes to special peace tribunals are to be spared jail time and extradition.


However, the rebels consistently refused direct involvement in the business itself and rebel peace negotiators in 2013 denounced drug trafficking like a "scourge" that has "contaminated" the worldwide economic climate and also generated a global health catastrophe.

More than 100 former rebels and FARC sympathizers gathered late Monday outside the heavily guarded prosecutors' bunker where the 51-year-old Hernandez was being held to demand his release.

"This is extremely serious, because it sends a very disastrous demoralising message that creates a lot of uncertainty", Chucho Narinho, a FARC regional leader, told reporters. FARC rebels signed a peace deal with Colombia's government in 2016.

FARC performed poorly in the election, garnering less than 0.4 percent of the vote for Senate and less than 0.3 percent in the lower house.

"The construction of peace requires the absolute commitment and respect for the law and the accords", Santos said. "Inside this aspect, there cannot be some room for weakness or tolerance". However, they're not secure for offenses perpetrated after the December 2016 signing.

When former President Alvaro Uribe demobilized paramilitary organization AUC, he extradited the paramilitary leaders to the USA without court approval, effectively sparking a wave of violence that killed thousands.

One senior FARC member, Ivan Marquez, said the arrest was one of the worst moments for the peace process.

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