Venezuela deports suspected trafficker to Colombia
ShareThisThe Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, May. 26, 2009 - 5:39 pm
BOGOTA -- A suspected trafficker accused of smuggling cocaine through Venezuela was deported to Colombia on Tuesday, where officials took him into custody at an international bridge linking the countries.
Wilmer Ignacio Guerrero Ibanez, who faces drug trafficking and homicide charges in Colombia, boarded a military plane in Caracas surrounded by heavily armed guards. Two other Colombians also were deported.
The 40-year-old suspect was handed over to Colombian police later Tuesday at the Simon Bolivar international bridge linking the South American countries, said Julio Cesar Sanchez, regional director of Colombia's domestic intelligence agency, DAS.
Venezuelan Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said Guerrero Ibanez is suspected of smuggling drugs through four states in central-western Venezuela. He said he was a former officer in Colombia's national police force.
Guerrero is one of the "20 most-wanted gangsters in Colombia," El Aissami said. He was detained last week in the western coastal town of Tucacas.
A statement from Colombia's foreign ministry thanked Venezuelan authorities for deporting Guerrero Ibanez.
U.S. officials in recent years have accused President Hugo Chavez's government of failing to fight drug trafficking effectively. Venezuela denies the charges.
Chavez suspended cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 2005, accusing its agents of espionage - accusations U.S. officials denied. Both governments have recently expressed willingness to cooperate in counter-drug efforts.
Wilmer Ignacio 'Nacho' Guerrero Ibáñez was captured by Venezuelan authorities in the tourist town of Tucacas, 251 kilometers west of Caracas.
Local media say that 'Nacho' is the right hand man of Miguel Villarreal Archila, alias 'Salomón', who took over the drug empire of 'Jorge 40', when the former drug lord and paramilitary leader demobilized.