King of Cocaine In Cali Cartel Arrested in Brazil
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BOGOTA, Colombia – One of the world’s most hunted drug traffickers – accused of shipping more than 70 tons of cocaine to America – has been arrested in Brazil, Colombian police said yesterday.
Colombian-born Pablo Rayo Montano, who had been on the run for a decade, was captured Tuesday in Sao Paulo as part of an operation coordinated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
More than three dozen others were arrested during simultaneous raids in America and Latin America, officials said. Authorities also seized control of three islands off the coast of Panama, a trove of artwork, yachts, and millions in cash.
“It’s estimated the amount of cocaine supplied by this organization was enough to poison 37 million consumers,” Colombia’s anti-narcotics police said in a statement.
Called Twin Oceans, the operation targeted a major drug cartel that shipped cocaine and other drugs from clandestine ports along Colombia’s coast.
Officials in nine countries – Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, Mexico, and America – have arrested more than 100 people during the investigation, and have seized 47.5 tons of cocaine, 22 pounds of heroin, and 770 pounds of marijuana.
Of the more than 30 arrests Tuesday, six were in America, including one in Los Angeles in which a federal agent posed as a pizza deliveryman, a DEA official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the operation. Four people were arrested in Miami and one in Indianapolis.
The Justice Department considered Mr. Montano a key target, accusing him of running one of the world’s largest drug smuggling operations from Sao Paulo, where he had lived for the past three years.
DEA officials said America would seek to extradite Mr. Montano.
Colombian police said Mr. Montano began trafficking drugs from the Pacific port of Buenaventura and rose to prominence within the now-defunct Cali cartel.
Police said that in Brazil, Mr. Montano set up a number of companies, including an art gallery, to launder proceeds from the monthly sale of an estimated 22 tons of cocaine to America and Europe.