Authorities from four countries worked on a several month-long operation which led to the arrest of Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, Colombia’s “last of the great capos,” on a Venezuelan street on Tuesday.
El Loco Barrera was arrested while making a call from a phone booth in the Venezuelan town of San Cristobal, allegedly because one of his relatives had given up his location.
The arrest followed dozens of failed attempts to arrest Colombia’s most mysterious drug lord and four months of cooperation between Colombia’s national Police, the U.S. intelligence agency CIA, British intelligence agency MI6 and the Venezuelan anti-narcotics police.
According to Colombia’s defense minister, Juan Carlos Pinzon, the kingpin had been in Venezuela for the past eight months and was running his business while moving between several towns near the Colombian border.
Media reported that Barrera’s massive wealth allowed him to profoundly corrupt local police authorities in Venezuela, holding off his eventual arrest for years and allowing him to travel to Brazil and Argentina.
Additionally, the drug lord did not own a telephone or any other electronic equipment. El Loco Barrera, “did not trust other forms of media communication” besides public telephones, “and used the booths to evade the detection of the National Police,” Colombia’s police chief Jose Roberto Leon told Colombian radio.
The drug lord went as far as burning his own hands, making it impossible for authorities to take his fingerprints, Leon said.
However, allegedly following a lead from one of his relatives, authorities were able to track down the drug lord, who was traveling through Venezuela under the false name of Jose Tomas Lucumi.
Representatives from each participating organization, including Leon, met in London last week to finalize the details of the sting. While Leon’s trips to the English capital and Washington D.C. were made public, there had been no mention of the pending Barrera operation.
Thanks to the cooperation of authorities from Colombia, the U.K., Venezuela and the U.S., Barrera’s criminal career ended at 5:45PM Tuesday when he was apprehended.
Colombia’s defense minister said he is waiting for the Venezuelans to extradite Barrera either to Colombia or the United States, where the drug lord has been indicted on charges of drug trafficking.