Colombian army captures notorious Brazil drug trafficker

April 22, 2001|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

BOGOTA, Colombia - Brazil's biggest drug trafficker was captured deep in the Amazon jungle yesterday after a two-month manhunt, a Colombian military spokesman said.

Luiz Fernando da Costa was caught after a brief standoff two days after he attempted to flee the region in a private Cessna 206 that was forced down in the middle of the jungle by the Colombian air force.

Da Costa is important not only as a drug dealer, but also as one of the largest suppliers of weapons to the FARC, Colombia's leftist guerrillas, authorities said. Da Costa is believed to smuggle in guns for the guerrillas, who in turn supply him cocaine for sale in the United States and Europe.

His operations were an indication of how intertwined Colombia's leftist insurgency and its drug trade have become, military officials said.

"It's a tremendous blow, both to narcotics trafficking and to the FARC," an army spokesman said of the arrest.

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