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25 drug cartel members held in Colombia


Bogota : Twenty-five suspected members of a notorious drug cartel have been arrestd in raids on several places across northwestern Colombia, the police have said.

National Police Director General Oscar Naranjo told reporters here Monday that the arrested people are suspected of belonging to the drug cartel led by Daniel Rendon Herrera, alias “Don Mario”, EFE news agency reported.

The arrests were made in an operation launched last Friday along the border of Antioquia and Cordoba provinces, Naranjo said.

Some 400 police officers from both provinces took part in the raids, which also led to the discovery and destruction of a score of cocaine laboratories and the seizure of 23 guns.

“What has been proven is that Don Mario’s organisation is a criminal structure serving the drug trade,” said Naranjo, who went to Medellin Sunday with President Alvaro Uribe to report on the operation and meet with regional security officials.

The general said that this was a “fundamental blow” against the gang run by Rendon Herrera, who carries a reward of 3 billion pesos ($1.34 million) on his head.

The refugee was a mid-level commander of the dispersed AUC right-wing militias who boycotted a peace process with the government and formed a new paramilitary organisation.

The AUC, which arose to battle leftist rebels, eventually came to dominate the trade in illegal drugs.

Colombia is the world’s leading producer of cocaine.