“Don Mario,” Colombia’s most wanted and feared drug lord, has been captured in the north of Colombia, President Alvaro Uribe confirms. According to local media reports, twenty to thirty of the drug kingpin’s men were also arrested.
Don Mario, whose real name is Daniel Rendon Herrera, was arrested Wednesday morning at 8:35 in a farm in Manuel Cuello, a rural area in the Urabá region in northern Antioquia, close to the Caribbean coast.
The operation leading to the arrest was headed by National Police Commissioner Oscar Naranjo himself, who had secretly gone to the region to coordinate the armed forces.
Undercover police had gone to the region where Don Mario was hiding during Easter. According to newspaper El Tiempo, the approximately 300 officials involved in the operation took advantage of the holiday to pretend to be tourists visiting in the region.
“The government officially confirmed the news. President Uribe, who is in a meeting with Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva at the moment, directly confirmed the news to his counterpart,” Press Secretary Cesar Mauricio Velásquez told press in Brazil, where Uribe is on an official visit.
The 43-year old Don Mario is suspected to be the main man of the drug trade in the west of Colombia. He is allegedly tied to the Aguilas Negras and the Autodefensas Gaitanistas, neo-paramilitary groups that emerged after the demobilization of the AUC. He is said to have close ties to Mexican drug cartels.
Don Mario is estimated to have his own private army of up to a thousand men. Twenty to thirty of these men were arrested in the same operation as the drug lord, W Radio said.
Don Mario and his jailed brother Freddy Rendon Herrera, alias “El Aleman,” were member of paramilitary organization AUC before its demobilization in 2006.
In Washington, Drug Enforcement Administration Chief of Intelligence Anthony Placido told AP that Rendon is wanted in the United States on drug-trafficking charges and that the U.S. government would seek his extradition.