One of Colombia’s most powerful drug barons has been captured in neighboring Venezuela. Colombian president Juan Manual Santos reported that Daniel Barrera, also known as El Loco and Crazy Barrera, was arrested in San Cristobal, Venezuela, 24 kilometers (15 miles) from the Colombian border, on Tuesday 18th September. Barrera, who had alliances with both FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and paramilitary groups, has been involved in drug trafficking in Colombia for over 20 years; he has been described as one of Colombia’s most wanted drug lords, and the boss of Eastern Colombia’s drug trade. Barrera had previously gone to extreme lengths to avoid capture, including having plastic surgery and burning his fingertips with acid.
Barrera’s capture was the result of collaboration between U.S., British, Venezuelan and Colombian authorities, with the U.S. offering a $5 million award for information leading to his arrest. Barrera’s is the third detention of a Colombian drug baron this year, a reminder of Colombia’s progress in the past decade: in 2010, the U.S. State Department declared that security conditions in the country had improved significantly. Tourist numbers have increased greatly in the past few years, from 0.5 million in 2003 to 1.4 million in 2010.