Although not a high priority for Colombian law enforcement, Beatriz Elena Henao, apprehended in Pereira Sunday, was one of the U.S.´ Most Wanted.
Counted by U.S. Marshalls among their top three fugitives, along with an American and a Canadian, 44-year-old Henao spent years on the run before her arrest by fourteen agents in a Pereira pizzeria last Sunday night, reported daily El Tiempo. She was escorted off the premises by seven guards.
After marrying a Dutch man in Colombia, Henao travelled with him to Amsterdam in 2000. The marriage lasted four years, during which Heano became multiligual – “She speaks German, Dutch, English and Spanish,” her Interpol file noted.
It was in Amsterdam, while running a Colombian goods store, that Henao met a Russian drug smuggler. Together they went into business smuggling ecstasy pills, which was certainly more profitable than Colombian coffee beans and keyrings.
300,000 tablets were seized at JFK Airport in New York in 2001, alerting U.S. authorities for the first time that a drug network from the Netherlands was trafficking amphetamines.
A 2004 roundup conducted by Dutch authorities netted Henao and seven others. She spent eight months in prison before being released due to a lack of evidence and relaxation of laws pertaining to drug offences.
Henao’s lawyers advised her to leave the Netherlands before American authorities succeeded in extraditing her to the United States.
Henao reentered Colombia via Venezuela under the alias ‘Luz Dary’. She resumed drug trafficking, this time cocaine from Colombia to Europe. However, she had trouble staying low-key.
“Despite her desire to go unnoticed, she could not leave her life of luxury and vanity,” said an investigator that tracked Henao for several months before her arrest. She stayed in four-star hotels and was followed to bars by police, who ascertained her true identity after lifting fingerprints from a glass in a bar.
Her capture is a great achievement for officials in the war against drugs.