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Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Mejia Munera known as one of the "twins" killed in a shootout

21:40 |

Mejia Munera was wanted for drug trafficking in the United States and had a $5 million reward on his head offered by the U.S. government, as does his brother, Victor Manuel. "He was one of our most wanted," said Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos in announcing that Miguel Angel Mejia Munera had been shot dead along with two of his men in a rural area near the northern city of Medellin.
Police killed a drug lord known as one of the "twins" who controlled Colombia's biggest emerging cocaine gang staffed by former right-wing militia fighters in a shootout on Tuesday.An informant guided police to the farmhouse where Mejia Munera, dressed in camouflage military fatigues, was found with his bodyguards, three of whom were captured.He and his still-at-large twin brother gained influence after they and other cocaine-funded paramilitaries disbanded under a government peace deal criticized by rights groups for not forcing former militia fighters to give up crime.
"The twins were the most powerful leaders in Colombia's new generation of criminal bands, which combine paramilitary and drug-cartel structures and pose the biggest threat to Colombia's future," said Pablo Casas, an analyst at Bogota think tank Security and Democracy.The twins were paramilitary leaders who demobilized in 2006. But they refused to turn themselves in to face jail time along with other militia leaders as part of the peace pact.The "paras" were formed in the 1980s to help rich Colombians beat back leftist rebels who are still fighting the state in the name of socialist revolution.The United States has given Colombia about $5.5 billion in aid over the last seven years aimed at combating the drug trade and bolstering security.
Urban crime rates have plummeted and investment is up in Colombia due to the military push. But cocaine exports from the Andean country remain steady at more than 600 tonnes per year, according to the United Nations. (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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