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Ex-Colombian Rebel Arrested on Drug Trafficking Charges

Ex-Colombian Rebel Arrested on Drug Trafficking Charges

But the arrest of a high-ranking rebel leader on a USA drug trafficking warrant has many Colombians wondering whether the former guerrillas have betrayed their pledge.

Santrich and three co-conspirators who were also detained were indicted by a NY grand jury for allegedly planning to traffic a cocaine shipment with a street value of $320m to the US.

The Spanish-language newspaper El Espectador reports that after Santrich's arrest, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos endorsed the extradition of the former rebel, noting that any immunity from prosecution covered by the peace agreement wouldn't apply because the alleged crime took place after it was signed.

"This is the worst moment that the peace process has gone through", said the former FARC official Iván Márquez, according to the Associated Press. "This really is what the Colombian persons require".

The AP writes: "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".

Hernandez is a member of the political party Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Comun (Farc) - the party that emerged after rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was dismantled.

Hernandez and his co-conspirators allegedly told the buyers that they had access to laboratories to supply the cocaine, to US-registered aircrafts to move the drugs and provided evidence of access to large quantities of cocaine. FARC rebels signed a peace deal with Colombia's government in 2016.




"My hand won't tremble to authorize the extradition", Santos said in a nationally televised address in which he tried to reassure demobilized fighters that they have nothing to fear as long as they uphold their commitments under the peace accord. 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.

With regards to the accord, rebels who put their weapons down and also confess their war offenses to exclusive peace tribunals should be spared jail time plus extradition.

The FARC long funded their insurgency by leveling a "war tax" on cocaine moving through territory the rebels dominated.

"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.

Colombia is now the world's largest producer of cocaine.

The FARC's ties to Colombia's flourishing drug underworld have always been a sore spot for the rebels.

"Like addicts they just can't quit the business", he added.

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