CRIME

Mauricio Santoyo Velasco indicted in Virginia court

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - A federal grand jury has charged a former top general in Colombia with a drug-running conspiracy, accusing him of taking bribes to aid the drug gangs he was supposed to be fighting.

Mauricio Santoyo Velasco is a retired general with the Colombian national police. From 1996 through 2002, he was a top commander in Colombia's anti-terrorism units.

He later led security for the country's then-president, Alvaro Uribe Velez.

An indictment unsealed last week in federal court in Alexandria charges that Santoyo took substantial bribes to tip off some of the country's leading drug gangs about U.S., British and Colombian investigations.

It also alleges he assigned corrupt officers to his units to benefit the drug gangs. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride declined to comment on the indictment Monday.

The May 24 indictment handed up by an eastern Virginia grand jury and unsealed last week alleges that Santoyo received "substantial bribes" in exchange for:

-Tipping off the traffickers to ongoing drug-trafficking investigations as well as wiretaps targeting them.

-Promising to "facilitate the transfer of corrupt police officers, who would further assist these drug-traffickers in their business."

-Notifying traffickers of upcoming arrest operations, including joint Colombian investigations with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

-Conducting unauthorized wiretaps on behalf of the traffickers.

-Provide intelligence collected by Colombian law enforcement to drug traffickers, including on people later targeted to be murdered by the traffickers.

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