Cali drug lord gives himself up to police

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of Reuters

Bogota - A leader of the powerful Cali drug cartel surrendered to Colombian authorities on Saturday, becoming the fifth Cali drug lord to give up or be captured in less than a month.

Ramiro Bejarano, the director of DAS, the country's secret police, said Phanor Arizabaleta had appeared with a lawyer at the entrance to his force's headquarters. "Arizabaleta surrendered voluntarily," Mr Bejarano said. "He plans to submit himself to the government's leniency policy."

The policy offers drug traffickers a negotiated reduction in their prison sentence if they surrender, confess to at least one crime and collaborate with judicial officials. Mr Arizabaleta, 57, is considered the sixth most important leader of the cartel, which controls most of the world's illegal cocaine trade. The government had offered a $574,000 (pounds 370,000) bounty for his capture.

He was reportedly in charge of the purchase and distribution of chemicals used by the cartel's clandestine laboratories to derive cocaine from the coca leaf.

Mr Arizabaleta was presented in handcuffs to journalists. "It is my will and desire to submit to justice," read a letter he presented on his surrender.

His surrender comes less than a week after police captured Jose Santacruz Londono, the third leader of the cartel, in a restaurant in northern Bogota. Henry Loaiza and Victor Julio Patino Fomeque, in charge of the cartel's security and military apparatuses, surrendered to police in Bogota before Mr Santacruz's capture. The Cali cartel's top leader, Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, was captured a month ago.