Leftist newspaper La Jornada alleged that Naranjo, who was recently hired to be newly-elected Mexican President Enrique Peña’s top security advisor, protected major drug traffickers and received covert assistance from U.S. security agencies, the Cali Cartel and late paramilitary leader Fidel Castaño.
Naranjo, who retired from his position at the helm of the National Police in April, who is believed to have been instrumental in curbing Colombia’s longstanding drug-fueled violence, denied the corruption rumors.
“I have nothing to say, I lived in Colombia for 36 years as a policeman. If there is any institution or official who has caught more drug dealers than me, tell me who it is. My life is based on results and therefore I will not explain this,” he said from Bogota. “Colombians have seen my ways and have seen the results we have produced, and therefore, to dwell on these charges makes no sense,” he added.
The retired commander has had to weather a storm of controversy in recent days, after former police General Mauricio Santoyo, who worked under Naranjo, turned himself over to U.S. authorities Tuesday amid charges that he collaborated with paramilitary group, the AUC, and Medellin-based crime syndicate the Oficina de Envigado between 2000 and 2008.
“We’re talking about the case of a general who provided an explanation and has not been convicted. He will give his explanation and be subjected to a trial. I do not want to refer to his personal situation,” Naranjo commented.
Santoyo’s lawyer claimed he gave himself up because he wanted to fully cooperate with Drug Enforcement Administration officials given an international arrest warrant was inevitable.
Ecuador issued an extradition request for Naranjo in September after a provincial judge in the neighboring country charged him and five other high-ranking officials with murder after a 2008 Colombian military operation crossed into Ecuadorian territory resulting in the death of FARC commander Raul Reyes and 25 other guerrillas.
President Juan Manuel Santos rejected Ecuador’s requests, saying he did not respect the jurisdiction of the country’s court and that military officials could not be charged with murder while acting on a state’s orders.
Naranjo is an iconic figure in his native country after dismantling some of the Colombia’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations, including Pablo Escobar‘s notorious Medellin Cartel. He managed to eclipse the approval ratings of every other Colombian public official save former President Alvaro Uribe.
Internationally, Naranjo is also revered, with a leaked 2009 diplomatic cable from U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield calling him “perhaps the smartest, best informed member” of Colombia’s government and the International Association of Chiefs of Police naming him the “World’s Best Policeman” in 2010.