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Mauricio Santoyo Velasco pleads not guilty

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - A former high-level Colombian general has pleaded not guilty to charges that he took substantial bribes from drug gangs.

Mauricio Santoyo Velasco was arraigned Friday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. A judge set a September trial date.

After the hearing, Santoyo's lawyer, Oscar Rodriguez, declined comment on details of the case but said Santoyo has given his life to his country and is entitled to a presumption of innocence.

Prosecutors also declined comment. Santoyo was chief of security for Colombia's then-president, Alvaro Uribe, from 2002 through 2005 and also served as a top anti-terrorism commander.

The indictment alleges he took substantial bribes to help drug gangs and thwart anti-trafficking efforts in the U.S. and Colombia. He turned himself in voluntarily in Colombia to face charges in the United States.

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