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Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2007

General removed in cocaine cartel case

August 11, 2007

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— Colombia has removed a general from his post at the head of an army division where a number of officers stand accused of working for the country's largest cocaine cartel, a Defense Ministry official said Friday.

Gen. Hernando Perez Molina was relieved of his command of the army's Third Division in western Colombia - a stronghold of the Norte del Valle cartel - said the official, who declined to be named because she was not authorized to speak on the matter. The government had not issued an official statement.

Since the scandal broke two weeks ago, two captains, a major and two lieutenant colonels have been arrested for allegedly turning a blind eye to the cartel's operations, according to the Defense Ministry official.

She declined to say whether Perez's firing was related to the scandal, saying only that "so far, he has not been implicated in any of the illegal activities."

The arrested officers are accused of being on the payroll of the alleged drug lord Diego Montoya, who is wanted for extradition for trafficking tons of cocaine to the United States, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said.

The U.S. government offered a $5 million reward in 2004 for Montoya's capture and lists him alongside Osama Bin Laden on the FBI's most-wanted list.

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