Colombia’s newly-named police director issued a warning to drug lords Monday, after announcing one the country’s biggest kingpins has turned himself over to U.S. authorities.
According to local reports soon to be police Director Jose Roberto Leon said, “I want to send a clear and strong message to all drug traffickers and especially to ‘Loco’ Barrera, whose days of freedom are numbered. The National Police is out there, using all its capacities to capture or neutralize you.”
Colombia’s current Director of police, Oscar Naranjo, said he hopes to capture Barrera before he leaves office May 15.
Leon’s warning came the same day that leader of Colombia’s most powerful drug gang, Javier Antonio Calle Serna, allegedly surrendered himself to U.S. authorities according to Colombian police sources. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has neither confirmed nor denied the claim.
According to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, Leon said it was likely that Calle’s brother and right hand man, Luis Antonio Calle Serna, would also surrender himself to U.S. authorities soon.
“The only option left for drug traffickers, terrorists, and gang leaders is to submit yourselves to Colombian justice,” said Leon.
In an interview with Colombian newspaper El Colombiano, Leon said he planned to institute a national version of a neighborhood watch program he pioneered on a city-wide level. He also stated that he agreed with Santos’ position on drug legalization.
“My position is the same as President Santos. The Colombian government has the moral authority to open the debate and, as indicated by [Santos], it is necessary to review the entire anti-drug strategy to explore new ideas and strategies enabling greater effectiveness in the fight against drug trafficking. Another point is that people who are addicted to drugs, especially marijuana, should receive medical treatment, so the issue becomes a matter of public health,” said Leon in the interview.
Leon started his law enforcement career in 1979 when he joined the Bogota police at the age of 16.