Lima — The head of the Colombian paramilitary group Los Urabeños was captured in a joint operation between Colombian and Peruvian police forces, officials said.
Jacinto Nicolas Fuentes, also known as Don Leo, was arrested in the seaside Lima district of Miraflores Wednesday. According to Gen. Raul Salazar, director of Peru’s National Police (PNP), Fuentes had entered Peru illegally last month.
Fuentes was one of two men who assumed control of Los Urabeños after the previous leader, Henry de Jesus Lopez Londoño — also known as “Mi Sangre (My Blood)” — was arrested in October. Colombian police believe Fuentes is the link between Los Urabeños and the 33rd front of the rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Los Urabeños, which is based in western Colombia is considered to be the most powerful neo-paramilitary group in the country, with a membership of 1,200 in the inner circle of the organization. Their primary source of income is drug trafficking.
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos commended the Colombian and Peruvian police who captured Fuentes on Twitter Thursday night. His tweet translates to, “Congratulations to the Colombian Police for the capture in Lima, with the help of Peruvian authorities, of Don Leo, boss of Los Urabeños in Bajo Cauca.”
Santos was named one of TIME’s most influential people last year in recognition of his Cero a Siempre (Zero to Forever) campaign, which aimed to double the number of children under the age of 5 who received early education from 600,000 to 1.2 million.
Felicitaciones @policiacolombia por captura en Lima, con ayuda de autoridades peruanas, de “Don Leo”, jefe de Los Urabeños en el bajo Cauca.
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) February 7, 2013
Authorities in South American countries have been cracking down on drug cartels recently. Because Colombia is bordered by five different countries, members of the cartels are often captured elsewhere, such as Venezuela or, in the case of Fuentes, Peru. Last September, drug kingpin Daniel Barrera — also known as “Crazy Barrera” — and 36 members of his gang were arrested in Venezuela. The previous November, drug lord Maximilian Bonilla Orozco was also captured in Venezuela.