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Chief of Manhunt for Colombia Drug Lord Accused of Cartel Ties

Bogotá, December 2 (teleSUR-RHC)-- Colombian Gen. Luis Eduardo Martinez, accused of maintaining drug trafficking connections while heading a manhunt for one of the country’s top drug lords, may still be slated for a promotion despite the alleged illicit ties, Colombian media reported Tuesday.

Martinez came under fire when the Colombian Senate was alerted to various testimonies of his alleged connections to organized crime and paramilitary groups during a hearing on a proposed promotion for the military and police official.

Despite the accusations, local media reported that Martinez was “one step closer” to achieving the promotion, while Colombian Senator Jimmy Chamorro applauded Martinez’ career and condemned the accusations as a “smear campaign” against the general. 

Martinez is leading a search operation targeting the Los Urabeños cartel kingpin Dairo Antonio Usuga David, better known as “Otoniel.” The search is said to be the biggest manhunt since Pablo Escobar, Colombia’s notorious so-called “King of Cocaine.” Los Urabeños, also called Clan Usuga, is Colombia’s most powerful drug cartel and a paramilitary successor of the defunct United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia or AUC, a right-wing paramilitary group involved in Colombia’s armed conflict.
    
But Martinez is accused of having links to organized crime that tarnish his legitimacy as the chief of the search. Testimonies suggest Martinez has connections to Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel and its debt-collection organized crime offshoot known as La Oficina de Envigado. Witnesses also accused Martinez of having ties to the former paramilitary commander of the AUC known as “Don Berna.” 

Colombian Gen. Mauricio Santoyo, a former military colleague of Martinez, and former paramilitary leader Carlos Mario Jiménez, alias “Macaco,” are among the key witnesses exposing Martinez’ ties to criminal groups, according to Colombia’s RCN. Santoyo, also accused of connections to drug kingpins and cartels, is currently serving jail time in the Unites States.

Authorities launched four “preliminary investigations” into the alleged illicit connections, saying Martinez’ pending promotion would be put on hold while the investigation proceeds.

According to Colombian Reports, state security forces have long been accused of links to right-wing paramilitary groups operating in the country’s over five-decade armed conflict. 
Edited by Ivan Martínez
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