Venezuela deports Colombian drug lord


A Colombian anti-drugs police officer stands guard next to marijuana packages on June 26, 2012, in Cali, department of Valle del Cauca, Colombia.

Venezuelan authorities on Wednesday deported an alleged Colombian drug lord who is accused of running Colombia's biggest right-wing criminal gang.

Diego Perez Henao, better known as Diego Rastrojo, was handed over to Colombian authorities along with seven other Colombians at the Caracas international airport, Venezuela Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami told the Associated Press. Diego Rastrojo, 41, was captured by Venezuelan soldiers on June 3 in the state of Barinas.

According to BBC News, Colombian officials said he heads Los Rastrojos, a fast-growing gang that exports cocaine to the US via Mexico. He was indicted in 2011 in the US state of Florida on charges of conspiracy to traffic cocaine.

The AP said the US State Department had offered a $5 million reward for his capture. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called Diego Rastrojo's capture one of the biggest recent blows against drug trafficking.

Authorities captured the alleged drug lord as he was trying to escape by speedboat on the Masparro River, where he owns a ranch, according to BBC.

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Colombian police said he was pretending to be the foreman of a rice farm in Barinas, where he lived with 10 bodyguards posing as his workers, reported the AP. Diego Rastrojo is a suspect in 66 homicides in Colombia and many other crimes, including kidnapping for extortion.

BBC said he started his criminal career with Colombia's FARC rebel group. He was also said to currently have 800 hitmen under his command.

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