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Drug kingpin captured in Venezuela

Colombian drug lord Daniel ‘Crazy’ Barrera was arrested during an international sting in Venezuela on Tuesday. Colombian officials are hailing the arrest as one of the most important captures in recent history.

Alleged Colombian drug trafficker Daniel Barrera, known as Loco Barrera, is seen in this handout photo provided by the national police on September 18, 2012. Barrera was arrested on September 18, 2012 by Venezuelan authorities in a street of San Cristobal, in Venezuela, President Juan Manuel Santos said. REUTERS/National Police Press/Handout (COLOMBIA - Tags: CRIME LAW HEADSHOT DRUGS SOCIETY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Venezuela Kolumbien Festnahme Daniel Barrera

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Tuesday that Daniel "Crazy" Barrera, alleged to be the country's last major drug lord, had been caught in neighbouring Venezuela in an international sting

"The last of the great capos has fallen," Santos announced on national television and radio, declaring that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Britain's MI6 foreign intelligence service had provided support.

Barrera, whose outfit is estimated to have sent more than 900 tons of cocaine to the United States and Europe, was caught in the Venezuelan city of San Cristobal, said Santos. Barrera is also believed to have criminal ties to FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebels and paramilitaries.

"This is perhaps the most important capture of recent times," the president said, thanking the Venezuelan government for its help.

Cocaine has long been a problem in Colombia. From Colombia, the drug is trafficked illegally to lucrative international markets. In the 1980s and early 1990s Colombian cartels dominated the American drug trade, but a US-supported government crackdown has helped break down local gangs.

In 2011, 252 of Bogota's 1,632 registered homicides, 15.4 percent, were linked to drugs, according to official figures. That same year Colombia was named the world's largest cocaine producer by a United Nations report, though neighbouring Peru is expected to soon overtake it.

hc/sej (afp, Reuters)