Alleged Drug Lord Captured

By Manuel Roig-Franzia
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, August 2, 2008

MEXICO CITY, Aug. 1 -- An alleged Colombian drug kingpin who escaped from prison in 2001 and is believed to be the main cocaine supplier to a violent drug gang in the Mexican state of Sinaloa has been captured here, federal police announced Friday.

Ever Villafañe Martinez had apparently been living openly in the capital under a false name, and was concealing his identity by, among other things, surgically removing the fingerprints from his fingertips, police said.

Mexican authorities suspect Villafañe of funneling millions of dollars worth of cocaine to a gang headed by the Beltran Leyva brothers gang, which has recently waged a bloody turf war with its former allies in the larger Sinaloa Cartel.

Villafañe was the subject of a huge manhunt earlier in the decade after his escape from a Colombian prison. U.S. authorities were then seeking his extradition, alleging that he was responsible for shipping 20 to 30 tons of cocaine to Mexico for export to the United States.

He was nabbed Wednesday at a home in Pedregal, a swanky neighborhood that is home to some of the city's wealthiest professionals. Authorities confiscated an assault rifle, a sports-utility vehicle and six cellphones. Villafañe was being held at a Mexico City prison.

The arrest was a coup for Mexican authorities, who have struggled to contain violent cartels blamed for more than 7,000 killings in the past 2 1/2 years, yet police did not explain why they waited two days to announce it.

Instead, the announcement came on the final day of an anti-drug summit in Colombia, attended by Mexican President Felipe Calderón and the presidents of several Central American nations.

At the summit, Calderón pledged more cooperation with neighboring nations.

"The essence of this phenomenon is that we are confronting criminal organizations organized at the international level; the problem of illegal drug trafficking and the crime associated with it has an international, global and transnational character, but the actions that we have been taking up until now have been national, individual and isolated," he said.

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