December 12, 2017
Monday, November 28, 2011

Venezuela, Colombia hail drug kingpin capture

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez (R) shakes hands with his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos (L), during his visit at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas.

The presidents of Venezuela and Colombia announced on Monday the capture of one of the region's most-wanted drug traffickers and touted it as evidence that their ideologically opposed governments were united against crime.

Maximiliano Bonilla Orozco -- a 39-year-old Colombian better known by his alias Valenciano -- was captured in the Venezuelan city of Valencia late on Sunday, the two leaders said at a meeting in Caracas.

Valenciano, with a $5 million bounty on his head, is accused of shipping tonnes of cocaine into the United States with the help of gangs like Mexico's Zetas.

"He's caused terrible damage to our country," said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, adding that Valenciano was the leader of a group called the Paisas, as residents of northwestern Colombia are known.

"Thank you, President Chávez. This is a good present."

Though the conservative Santos is a key US ally and socialist leader Hugo Chávez is Washington's fiercest critic, the pair have overturned years of mistrust and forged a strong, pragmatic, relationship since last year.

Colombia has in the past accused the Chávez government of giving refuge to Marxist guerrillas, and analysts believe Venezuela has at least turned a blind eye over the years.

Venezuela also has become a major shipment route for Colombian cocaine to the United States and European nations.

But since Santos came to power in August 2010, both leaders have set aside their ideological differences and stressed the need for cooperation in a border region infested by rebels, drug traffickers and other criminal bands.


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Tags:  venezuela  colombia  santos  chávez  drug  valenciano  orozco  us  

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