Posted by Brandon Barrett on Jun 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Retired general responds to US drug trafficking charges

Retired General Mauricio Santoyo, who served as former President Alvaro Uribe‘s security chief, responded to drug trafficking charges filed by U.S. authorities Monday.

A Virginia court charged Santoyo with drug trafficking after the testimony of extradited paramilitary leaders Salvatore Mancuso and Carlos Mario Jimenez, alias “Macaco.” He was linked to the now-defunct paramilitary group, the AUC and Medellin-based crime syndicate Oficina de Envigado.

According to newspaper El Tiempo, the retired general is suspected of having been paid by both organizations to leak classified intelligence and provide them with information about rival drug traffickers who had their phones illegally wiretapped and “were later found assassinated.”

Santoyo released a statement Monday in response to the charges. “I could hardly refer to [the charges] until I know the document in question. However, it is appropriate to say that I have always been and will always be available to the relevant authorities to clarify any association that I do have,” he said. “I served Colombia for more than 30 years as an officer in the National Police and I have the peace of mind to answer any questions about my actions.”

Uribe asked Sunday that Santoyo, who served in the former president’s cabinet between 2002 and 2006, explain the allegations against him.

According to a recent report, almost 1,200 Colombian officials face accusations of collaborating with the AUC.