Authorities say Daniel Barrera, a man described as Colombia’s biggest drug lord, was captured in neighboring Venezuela on Tuesday.
According to NBC News, officials from South America, Europe and the US had been closing in on Barrera — known as “Crazy Barrera” — in recent weeks, arresting 36 members of his gang and seizing five tonnes of the drug and 21 aircraft.
The kingpin had reportedly been in Venezuela for the past eight months under a false name and was running his business while moving between several towns near the Colombian border. CNN writes that Barrera had also undergone multiple plastic surgeries to change his appearance, in both Colombia and Venezuela.
“He has dedicated 20 years to doing bad things to Colombia and the world, all types of crime, perverse alliances with paramilitaries, with the Farc [rebel group],” President Santos said in a televised speech after Barrera’s capture. “This is perhaps the most important arrest in recent times.”
Prior to his capture, Crazy Barrera had a $5 million bounty on his head from the United States and $2.7 million from the Colombian government. Officials say his smuggling ring was capable of sending 10 tons of cocaine a month to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, the most powerful organized crime gang in the Americas.
Barrera’s arrest was the third involving alleged Colombian drug kingpins over the past year.
On June 3, Venezuelan authorities arrested the alleged head of the Los Rosjostros drug cartel, Diego Perez Henao, 41, who had a $5 million reward on his head for allegedly trafficking cocaine to the United States. He was sent to Colombia a few weeks later.
Then in last November, 39-year-old drug boss Maximilian Bonilla Orozco was also caught in Venezuela.