Colombia’s ex-President Alvaro Uribe on Sunday denied his late brother Jaime had ties with drug lord Pablo Escobar as alleged in reports on the imminent extradition of Uribe’s sister-in-law and niece to the U.S. to face drug trafficking and money laundering charges.
According to research center Nuevo Arco Iris and Semana columnist Daniel Coronell, Jaime Uribe was arrested and interrogated by the army in 1986 after investigators discovered there had been calls made from Uribe’s phone to Pablo Escobar. The case never made it to court, both reports said.
In a response on his Twitter account, Uribe admitted that his brother had been detained by the army over the alleged communication with Escobar, but that “his car phone was cloned by criminals, as happened with several persons in [Uribe’s home department of] Antioquia.”
According to Uribe, “My brother was detained nu the 4th Brigade and released after proving the cloning and the impossibility the made calls were his because of his health and hospitalization.”
The partner and daughter of Jaime Uribe, who died in 2001 of throat cancer, are expected to be extradited to the United States for their alleged ties to Joaquin Guzman, alias “El Chapo.”
While not denying the two suspects were the partner and daughter of his brother, Uribe denied the two women were part of his family.
“My brother Jaime died in 2001, married to Astrid Velez, they had two children; one professional in environmental matter and one girl who was born with cerebral palsy. Other romantic relations my brother might have had would have been private and unknown to me,” the former President said.
The Uribe family has long faced accusations of ties to drug trafficking organizations.
According to 1991 U.S. military intelligence files, The former President was a “close friend” of Pablo Escobar, who according to Colombian newspaper archives lent Uribe one of his helicopters in 1983 when his father was killed and his brother Santiago was injured by FARC guerrillas.
Santiago is facing a criminal investigation for the alleged founding and leading of a paramilitary group and Uribe’s cousin Mario was convicted for his ties to the paramilitary organization AUC. The former President has on several occasions and by several people been accused of having had ties to this organization. Uribe has categorically denied ties to drug trafficking or paramilitary organizations.