WASHINGTON – A Colombian rebel leader wanted by U.S. law enforcement authorities on murder and drug trafficking charges has been arrested in Suriname and flown to the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration said Wednesday.
Carlos Bolas, a leader of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces, known as FARC, will be arraigned in U.S. District Court, the DEA said.
"For the first time we have not only indicted a member of a terrorist organization involved in drug trafficking, but we have also arrested him," said DEA Director Asa Hutchinson.
The agency obtained custody of Bolas on Tuesday. Surinamese authorities arrested him for immigration violations after determining he was using a false Peruvian passport.
Surinamese officials, aware that Bolas was wanted in the United States, ordered him expelled and turned him over to the DEA.
In Suriname, officials said Bolas was arrested in a house north of the capital of Paramaribo, along with five Surinamese and one Brazilian.
Carlos Bolas is a nickname. His real name is said to be Rojas.
Besides the drug charges, Bolas was wanted for the February 1999 murders of three Americans who were working with an Indian community in northeastern Colombia.
Last March, a federal grand jury in Washington indicted Bolas and other FARC members on charges of conspiring to manufacture and import cocaine into the United States, the DEA said.
The indictment alleges that, starting in 1994, Bolas and his associates were leaders of a cocaine trafficking ring centered in Barranco Minas, Colombia, that manufactured and sold cocaine to international drug traffickers in exchange for money, weapons, and equipment for the FARC.
Surinamese police spokesman Ronald Gajadhar said local authorities had observed the suspect for months before making the arrest.
There were no shots fired during the arrest, he said.
Police found two handguns, a satellite telephone and a Global Positioning System device, all allegedly belonging to Bolas. According to Gajadhar, Bolas was living illegally in Suriname.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said in March that the indictment "marks the convergence of two of the top priorities of this Department of Justice — the prevention of terrorism and the reduction of illegal drug use — in a single act of justice."
The FARC is the larger of two leftist guerrilla groups in Colombia. The State Department has called it the most dangerous international terrorist group based in the Western Hemisphere.
Since 1980, the FARC has murdered 13 U.S. citizens and kidnapped more than 100, including three missionaries, kidnapped in 1993, who are now believed dead, the DEA said.