Alleged top Colombian drug lord captured in Venezuela

Story highlights

  • Maximiliano Bonilla Orozco, alias "El Valenciano," was caught in Venezuela, president says
  • President thanks Venezuelan leader for capturing alleged member of Los Paisas cartels
  • El Valenciano was captured Sunday night in Valencia, Venezuela
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced Monday that one of Colombia's most wanted drug traffickers, Maximiliano Bonilla Orozco, alias "El Valenciano," has been captured in Venezuelan territory.
During his visit to Caracas, Santos thanked Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for the capture of El Valenciano, who is allegedly a member of the Los Paisas cartels.
"He is one of the most recognizable drug traffickers who has caused terrible damage to our country," Santos said during a joint news conference at the Miraflores palace in Caracas.
"This shows that if we work together, if our police enforcement work together, we will get better results."
El Valenciano was captured Sunday night in Valencia, Venezuela.
In a conciliatory tone toward a former foe, Chavez said his government hopes to work with Colombia on security issues.
"We will do everything we can to stop any attacks from Venezuelan soil into Colombia," he said.
In May, Walid Makled Garcia, also accused of being one of the world's top drug lords, was extradited from Colombia to Venezuela, Venezuelan state media said.
The United States designated Makled as one of the world's most significant drug kingpins in May 2009 and had also requested his extradition.
According to InSight, a Bogota- and U.S.-based intelligence group monitoring organized crime in the region, "Valenciano" is the top leader of the fractured but dangerous Oficina de Envigado, based in Medellin.
Valenciano, who started off as a hired assassin as a teenager, rose through the ranks as his associates were jailed, killed or extradited, InSight reported.
According to the U.S. State Department, Valenciano operated a transnational narcotics organization that distributes cocaine from Colombia through Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico to the United States. The State Department offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest or conviction.