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Former FARC Leader Arrested In Colombia On US Drug Warrant

12 April, 2018, 00:29 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Ex-rebel leader’s arrest puts Colombia peace process on edge    
     Apr. 10 2018 6:00

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

Santrich was a leader in the now disarmed Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, guerrilla movement, and was one of the top negotiators for the leftist group during the 2016 peace process with the Colombian government.

"The construction of peace requires the absolute commitment and respect for the law and the accords", Santos said on Monday.

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 US cocaine with a street value of $320 million. They allegedly discussed their access to coca fields, cocaine laboratories and US -registered aircraft to smuggle the drugs.

The political movement started by the former rebels said on social media that it was "the worst moment that the peace process has gone through".

The former head of the guerrilla's peace negotiating delegation, Iván Márquez, said that the legal plotted plan threatens to extend to the entire Farian ex-command in order to behead the political leadership of the Party. "Inside this aspect, there cannot be some room for weakness or tolerance".

In a televised statement, President Juan Manuel Santos warned that if the evidence shows the responsibility of Hernandez, "his hand will not shake to authorize his extradition".

In addition, it triggered an exchange of mad recriminations amongst conservative critics of their peace procedure and supporters of all the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Under terms of the accord, rebels who lay down their weapons and confess their war crimes are to be spared jail time and extradition.

The peace deal, which put an end to a civil war that lasted more than half a century and killed more than 220,000 people, has been under pressure as many Colombians think it was too lenient towards former rebels who have committed atrocities.

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

Some dissident members of the FARC are said to have turned to drug trafficking and other criminal endeavors.

"Like addicts they just cannot quit the business", he included.

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.

Fifty members of its leadership structure - though not Santrich - were indicted in 2006 in the USA on charges of running the world's largest drug cartel.

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