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Ex-police general surrenders in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) – A retired police general who served as chief of security for then-President Alvaro Uribe surrendered to U.S. authorities in Colombia on Tuesday and was flown to the United States to face drug trafficking charges.

Mauricio Santoyo handed himself over to U.S. agents and was flown to Dulles International Airport in Virginia in a U.S. government plane, authorities said. He was to appear before a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, on Thursday, the local U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

A May indictment in eastern Virginia charges Santoyo with conspiracy to export cocaine and alleges that he betrayed international counter-narcotics operations from 2002 to 2008. It says he conducted unauthorized wiretaps on behalf of drug traffickers and signaled murder targets for them.

He is alleged to have received at least $5 million in return.

Santoyo was Uribe’s security chief from 2002 to 2005.

The case has been a major issue in Colombia, source of most of the cocaine sold in the United States, because of Santoyo’s privileged post in Uribe’s government, which forged a peace pact with far-right militias whose leaders included major drug traffickers.

Before being named to the job, Santoyo had run an anti-kidnapping unit in Medellin, where individuals under his command engaged in illegal wiretaps, including of two human rights activists who later disappeared.

The U.S. indictment alleges Santoyo betrayed the Colombian state on behalf of a criminal organization called “La Oficina de Envigado” that in addition to engaging in drug trafficking provided “enforcers” including assassins for traffickers.

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