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12 April 2018, 12:27 | Simon Arnold
Former FARC negotiator arrested on drug trafficking charges and could face extradition to the US
The arrest stokes worries from the US and worldwide analysts that the FARC and other guerrilla groups putting down their weapons will not be able to quit overseeing the illicit, underground industries involving drugs, timber, and gold in Colombia.
"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.
The FARC declared today that with the capture of party leader Jesús Santrich Colombia " s peace process was at its most critical point and threatens to be a true failure. The FARC didn't provide any evidence to back up the claim.
'This is the worst moment that the peace process has gone through, ' said the former rebel leader known as Ivan Marquez, who served as chief negotiator during the peace talks.
Waving white flags emblazoned with the red rose symbol of the former rebels" political movement, some shouted "freedom' and denounced what they called an act of judicial sabotage by the government and its US backers.
"Those detained have betrayed the values and the principles of the peace deal", Mr. Martinez said in a televised address alongside President Juan Manuel Santos. "This is what the Colombian people demand". In this aspect, there can't be any room for tolerance or weakness'.
The son of two school teachers, Santrich joined a local youth communist group as a student and entered the guerrilla movement in his early 20s. He moved along to Norway in 2012 to start discussions with Colombia's government and then participated in talks which continued the subsequent four years at Cuba, where he earned a reputation to be truly a hard line ideologue.
He was arrested in Bogota on Monday on charges filed in a NY court that he had conspired with three others to smuggle several tonnes of cocaine with a street value of more than $320 million to the United States.
According to a Interpol note, Santrich satisfied with cocaine purchasers at his residence November two, 2017 - a day after one of his co conspirators sent a 5-kilogram sample of their reverted into them at a resort lobby in Bogota. It's not clear if the drugs were ever sent.
"The peace process is in a critical moment and is in jeopardy of failing", Marquez said, reaffirming that the FARC's commitment to a process that has led to the demobilization of nearly 7,000 fighters "has no return". It provided a copy of part of a Colombian search warrant that said authorities raided his home in Bogota at the request of the U.S. Embassy.
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Under the agreement, FARC fighters who demobilise and confess to war crimes would be spared jail time and extradition, but this protection does not extend to crimes committed after the peace deal was ratified.
Even the FARC extended financed their insurgency by leveling a "war tax" on cocaine proceeding through land the rebels dominated. The FARC long funded itself by leveling a "war tax" on cocaine moving through territory it dominated, and 50 members of its leadership structure - though not Santrich - were indicted in 2006 in the US on charges of running the world's largest drug cartel.
The FARC's ties to Colombia's flourishing drug underworld have always been a sore spot for the rebels.
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