CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — An alleged Colombian drug lord changed his appearance through repeated plastic surgeries before he was captured in Venezuela while making a call from a public payphone, Venezuela's justice minister said Wednesday.
Suspected drug trafficker Daniel Barrera was being brought from the southwestern city of San Cristobal to the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said.
The arrest of the man known as "El Loco," or "The madman," was announced on Tuesday by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
El Aissami said at a news conference that Colombian officials had notified Venezuelan authorities that Barrera was making a call from one of dozens of public phones that they had been monitoring in the area.
Barrera had been in Venezuela since 2008 and owned ranches worth millions of dollars, said Colombia's National Police director, Gen. Jose Roberto Leon, at a news conference in Washington.
Leon said Barrera had been posing as a cattle rancher and when detained was carrying a fake identification with the name Jose Tomas Lucumi that also said he was a resident of the Colombian city of Cali.
The Colombian police chief thanked Venezuelan authorities for their cooperation in capturing Barrera in San Cristobal. He said the man was alone and didn't resist.
Leon also said the British intelligence service MI-6 had provided "special training and technology" that helped make the capture possible. He said he had traveled to MI-6's headquarters last week, and that on Tuesday he had traveled to Washington, where he received "another important contribution" from the CIA that allowed authorities to launch the operation to capture Barrera.
The 50-year-old Barrera was one of Colombia's most wanted fugitives. Early last year, authorities announced a $2.7 million reward for information leading to his capture.
U.S. and Colombian officials have alleged that Barrera's gang supplies cocaine to Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, which ships drugs to the United States.
The authorities had recently obtained information from an informant, Leon said.