WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. – Gerardo Aguilar Ramírez, a former commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), has been sentenced to 27 years in prison after being found guilty of conspiring to send tons of cocaine to the United States. Aguilar Ramírez, 50, was extradited by Colombian officials in July 2009 so he could face drug trafficking charges. Aguilar Ramírez, who goes by the alias “César,” also is accused of playing a major role in holding three American defense contractors, as well as Franco-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, hostage for years. He was arrested by the Colombian army in July 2008. “The incarceration of narco-terrorists like Aguilar Ramírez helps to choke the international drug trade,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement. “This office will continue to work with our partners at the (Drug Enforcement Administration) to incapacitate dangerous narco-terrorists who seek to pour drugs into the United States.”
Venezuelan officials arrest 21 police officers suspected of aiding two alleged drug traffickers’ escape
CARACAS, Venezuela – Authorities have arrested 21 police officers in connection with aiding two alleged Mexican drug traffickers’ escape from custody. The absence of Mexicans Roberto Ávila and Carlos Irazabal Martínez, suspected members of the Juárez cartel, from the police station in the central state of Cojedes was noticed on July 6, launching an investigation, according to the Public Ministry. Ávila, 30, and Irazabal, 33, had been incarcerated since they were arrested in connection with landing a plane suspected of being used for drug trafficking on a hidden airstrip in March 2009, according to the Attorney General’s Office. Ávila and Irazabal have been charged with aggravated trafficking of narcotics and psychotropic substances, conspiracy and the fraudulent diversion of an airplane, according to the Venezuelan website Noticias 24.com.
Mexico: Army kills nine suspected drug traffickers, captures six during gunfight
MEXICO CITY – The Mexican army has killed nine suspected drug traffickers and apprehended six others during a gunfight in the northern border state of Chihuahua, Mexico’s defense department said in a statement. The battle in the town of La Simona on the border between Chihuahua and Sonora also led to a seizure that included 27 kilograms (59 pounds) of explosives, 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of marijuana, 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of marijuana seed, detonator cable, 15 assault rifles, 3 handguns, more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition, 7 satellite telephones and 10 vehicles, according to EFE. Chihuahua, which borders Texas, has become a hotbed for violence, as it is home to a large portion of the country’s more than 7,000 drug-related killings documented this year, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Nicaraguan police seize nearly 600 pounds of cocaine
RIVAS, Nicaragua – Police seized 270 kilograms (594 pounds) of cocaine stashed in a hidden compartment in a truck that crossed into the country from Costa Rica, officials said. The driver, a Costa Rican national, was arrested after police found the cocaine amidst a shipment of kitchen supplies. Officials said the truck was en route to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where it would proceed north toward Mexico, according to the Nicaraguan daily La Prensa.
Peru to buy 8 Russian helicopters to bolster fight against narcotics
LIMA, Peru – The country plans to buy eight helicopters for US$108 million from Russian company Rosoboronexport that will be used to fight narcotics trafficking, officials said. Peru will use six of the helicopters to transport forces and two for combat in a region occupied by remaining members of the terrorist group Shining Path, which is involved in drug trafficking. “The two combat helicopters will be delivered this year, while the transportation [helicopters] will arrive by July 2011,” said Minister of Defense Rafael Rey, as quoted by Reuters.