Colombia Arrests Former Marxist Rebel Leader on US Drug Trafficking Charge

April 10, 2018 Updated: April 10, 2018

BOGOTA–Colombia on Monday arrested a soon-to-be congressman from the Marxist FARC party –also known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – on charges of drug trafficking, the government said, sparking outrage from the former rebel group that demobilized last year.

Seusis Hernandez, who was due to take office in July, conspired to export 10 tonnes of cocaine worth $320 million in street value to the United States, Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez said in a televised address with President Juan Manuel Santos.

A U.S. grand jury in the Southern District of New York indicted Hernandez, known by his nom de guerre Jesus Santrich, and three others last week, Martinez said.

“The attorney general has informed me that, as the result of rigorous investigation, he has forceful and conclusive proof that show the responsibility of Seusis Hernandez, known as Jesus Santrich, for drug trafficking crimes committed after the accord was signed,” Santos said, referring to the 2016 peace deal to end more than five decades of conflict between the FARC and the Columbian government.

“Those detained have betrayed the values and the principles of the peace deal,” Martinez said.

Hernandez will remain in custody until the U.S. request for extradition is formalized, Martinez said. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under the terms of the deal, FARC has 10 guaranteed congress seats through 2026, one of which the party awarded to Hernandez.

The arrest sparked condemnation by the FARC, which said it was an attack on the difficult peace deal. It was unclear whether the party was planing on replacing Hernandez and with whom.

Crimes committed by narcoterrorist FARC members during the war are set to be adjudicated by a special tribunal. Crimes committed after FARC demobilized are subject to regular judicial procedure, which includes the possiblity of extradition.

 

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