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Suspected drug kingpin caught with his pants down

  • Story Highlights
  • Reputed drug lord on FBI's top 10 most-wanted list captured in west Colombia
  • Diego Montoya Sanchez "the most sought-after narcotrafficker in the world"
  • FBI offered reward of $5 million for information leading to his arrest
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BOGOTA, Colombia (CNN) -- An alleged drug kingpin was captured in his underwear Monday, hiding in a bush outside a house in western Colombia, government officials said in Bogota.

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Diego Leon Montoya Sanchez was captured in his underwear, hiding in bushes, Gen. Mario Montoya Uribe said.

Diego Leon Montoya Sanchez, now 47 the FBI says, was taken into custody early Monday, Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos told reporters.

"He was considered the most sought-after narcotrafficker in the world," Santos said.

The FBI had been seeking Montoya, known as "Don Diego," for seven years and had him on the Most Wanted list.

The FBI accused him of being responsible for shipping "multiple tons of cocaine" into the United States and called him "one of the principal leaders of the Colombian North Valley drug cartel," which it said is "the most powerful and violent drug trafficking organization in Colombia."

The cartel reportedly relies on right-wing paramilitary and left-wing rebel groups, the FBI said on its Web site, which had not been updated Monday evening.

Montoya was responsible for as much as 70 percent of the cocaine sold in the United States and Europe and his organization ordered 1,500 assassinations, Santos said. Video Watch Montoya being escorted under heavy guard »

The capture was the culmination of a plan months in the making, Santos said. Plans revved up three days ago, when informants told authorities that Montoya was in the town of Salsa in the department of El Valle, he said.

On Sunday, intelligence narrowed his whereabouts to the Hacienda Pital, said Gen. Mario Montoya Uribe. "With this information, we mounted the operation," he said. "This morning, at 4:30 a.m., we got the green light."

Forty members of the army's special forces were flown past Montoya Sanchez's phalanx of security guards, and other soldiers were moved to other locations to distract them, he said.

By 6:20 a.m. a commando team had surrounded the house as other troops stayed about 400 meters away.

Inside they found three women, including Montoya Sanchez's mother, and two men, one of them his uncle. They also found his wallet and cell phone, but Montoya Sanchez was nowhere to be found, the general said.

But a soldier searching outside the house saw leaves of a bush move and found the suspect hiding, clad in his underwear, Montoya Uribe said.

The heavy-set man was taken to a helicopter and ferried to the capital, where authorities paraded him -- now wearing a black T-shirt and khaki pants, his hands bound before him -- before reporters.

Asked if he wanted to make a statement, he said he did not.

Montoya Sanchez's two brothers are also in custody on drug charges. Juan Carlos has been extradited to the United States and Eugenio is awaiting extradition.

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The U.S. State Department was offering a $5 million reward for Montoya Sanchez's capture. It was not immediately clear who, if anyone, would get it.

Since taking office in 2002, President Alvaro Uribe, a key U.S. ally in Latin America, has approved the extradition of nearly 500 Colombians to the United States, the majority on drug-trafficking charges, according to The Associated Press. For his aggressive stance, the United States has awarded Colombia with more than $700 million in annual anti-narcotic aid. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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