Police correct identity of dead drug trafficker
BOGOTA, Colombia – Police killed one of Colombia’s most-wanted drug lords in a shootout, though they initially confused the man with his brother, officials said Wednesday. The U.S. government had offered $5 million rewards for both men.
Killed in Tuesday’s raid was Victor Manuel Mejia, one of two suspected drug-trafficking brothers known as “The Twins,” according to a police statement.
Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos earlier misidentified the slain man as his brother Miguel Angel.
The police statement said Victor Mejia was carrying his brother’s identity papers and that a fingerprint confirmed his true identity.
Santos said two bodyguards were also killed and three other men were arrested in the raid on the La Union ranch in the northwestern state of Antioquia.
The slain man was wearing desert-style American military fatigues, he added.
Santos said that the surviving brother should turn himself in or he too “would end up in jail, or like his brother, in a tomb.”
Victor and Miguel Angel Mejia allegedly began trafficking in the 1990s. A U.S. extradition request for the Mejia brothers issued in 2004 said they were responsible for shipping nearly 70 tons of cocaine in just two years.
The Mejias joined the far-right paramilitaries, as many drug traffickers did in the early 2000s to benefit from a peace pact with the government that offered reduced sentences and suspended extradition orders.
But rather than be transferred to a prison with other warlords, they went on the run.
The U.S. State Department has a standing offer of US$5 million (euro3.2 million) for information leading to the arrest of each of the brothers.
President Alvaro Uribe said Monday that the brothers had sent a message to authorities offering to give themselves up on the condition they not be extradited to the United States.
“Our answer was: no way,” Uribe said in a statement.
In December, Uribe called for an investigation of citizen complaints that the brothers’ network had infiltrated the security forces.
A month later, officials said they sacked the deputy police commander of the northern state of Cesar for allegedly accompanying a convoy in which Miguel Angel Mejia was riding.