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Crime & Courts

Colombia ex-general pleads not guilty in drug case

A former high-level Colombian general has pleaded not guilty to charges that he took bribes from drug gangs.

Mauricio Santoyo Velasco was arraigned Friday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. A judge set a September trial date.

After the hearing, Santoyo's lawyer, Oscar Rodriguez, declined comment on details of the case. But he says Santoyo has given his life to his country and is entitled to a presumption of innocence.

Prosecutors also declined comment.

Santoyo was chief of security for Colombia's then-president, Alvaro Uribe, from 2002 to 2005 and also served as a top anti-terrorism commander. The indictment alleges he took substantial bribes to help drug gangs and to thwart anti-trafficking efforts in the U.S. and Colombia.

He surrendered in Colombia to face charges in the United States.

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