Bolivian police search for ex-drug lord who fled clinic

Jorge Roca Suarez, one of Bolivia's top drug lords in the 1980s who served 28 years in prison in the United States before returning to the South American nation earlier this year, has fled a medical clinic where he was receiving treatment, authorities said Saturday.

Police said an operation was underway to find Roca Suarez, who had been arrested when he returned to Bolivia in April. A judge had given a 10-day pass to the 67-year-old to seek treatment at the La Paz clinic.

Roca Suarez became a major drug lord after taking over from his uncle Roberto Suarez, one of South America's largest drug traffickers who was known as the "Cocaine King." Both men were suppliers to the Medellin Cartel then led by Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

"We have to confirm the escape of this person who was serving a detention ordered by a court," Fernando Rojas, deputy director of the Special Force to Fight Crime, told state news agency ABI. "Nevertheless, he had a permit granted by a judge which gave him 10 days to stay in a clinic."

A video posted by the Santa Cruz newspaper El Deber purportedly showed Roca Suarez eating in a market in the town of San Ana de Yacuma, about 690 kilometers (430 miles) north of La Paz. Authorities have yet to comment on the video.

Roca Suarez was arrested in his house in Los Angeles in 1990. He had been in prison in the U.S. serving a 36-year sentence but was given early release and returned to Bolivia this year. Authorities in the Andean, cocaine-producing country jailed him in a drug-related case.