Last Colombian Drug Kingpin Falls: 'Crazy' Barrera Captured

PHOTO: Venezuelas judicial police officers escort alleged Colombian drug trafficker Daniel Barrera, center, at the Regional Command No. 1 National Guard base in San Cristobal, Tachira state, Venezuela, Sept. 19, 2012.

The last of the old-school Colombian drug lords has been captured in Venezuela, said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during a televised speech on Tuesday. Daniel Barrera, also known as "Crazy Barrerra" or "The Madman" had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head.

"Crazy Barrera has been perhaps the most wanted kingpin in recent times," Santos said.

The 50-year-old drug lord, who has allegedly smuggled cocaine to the U.S. for decades, was arrested while making a call on a public pay phone in San Cristobal, near the Colombian-Venezuelan border. The highly sought after trafficker had undergone extensive plastic surgery in an attempt to alter his appearance and evade capture, according to authorities, and had allegedly also used acid to remove his fingerprints.

The U.S. had offered $5 million for information leading to his arrest, while the Colombian government offered $2.7 million of its own.

The arrest of one of Colombia's most wanted fugitives was the result of a multinational effort involving the C.I.A., Venezuelan drug police, and British intelligence officials, according to Santos.

Barrera's capture was one of a series of arrests in an ongoing international drug sting. In recent weeks Colombian authorities arrested 36 members of his gang, seized five tons of drugs, and 21 aircraft, according to a Reuters report.

Venezuela's justice minister, Tareck El Aissami, tweeted that the bust was "the most important blow" to drug trafficking "that we have made in Venezuela."

"Loco" Barrera was allegedly responsible for a gang capable of sending 10 tons of cocaine a month to the organized Mexican "Sinaloa" cartel, according to the Colombian government. The Sinaloa cartel would then allegedly move the cocaine to the U.S.

"The last of the great capos has fallen," said President Santos in announcing the capture. Barrera was able to escape from authorities, however, after he was arrested for trafficking in 1990.

"The madman" had allegedly retired to a quieter life, and since 2008 had been posing as a cattle rancher under the name of Jose Tomas Lucumi in Venezuela, said Colombia's National Police director Gen. Jose Roberto Leon, at a news conference in Washington.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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