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Colombia arrests former security chief for Uribe

September 30, 2013

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A retired police general who was the security chief for former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe for four years was arrested Monday and charged with illicit enrichment.

Flavio Buitrago, 54, is the second former Uribe security chief in apparent drug corruption-related trouble. The first, Mauricio Santoyo, is serving a 13-year sentence in the U.S. after pleading guilty to taking bribes from paramilitary drug lords.

The chief prosecutor’s press office said without offering details that Buitrago was arrested Monday when he appeared for questioning.

Buitrago’s lawyer said in a phone interview that the case centers on $31,000 that prosecutors said were unsubstantiated in Buitrago’s 2005 and 2006 income tax returns.

The attorney, Carlos Arturo Gomez, told The Associated Press that the proceeds came from the revaluation of two homes owned by Buitrago.

Various media reports have linked Buitrago to veteran drug trafficker and potato wholesaler Marco Antonio Gil Garzon, who was arrested in March on trafficking, money laundering and illicit enrichment charges.

Buitrago retired from the police force that same month. He repeated Monday that his only relationship with Gil was rescuing the man’s kidnapped daughter when he was head of Bogota’s anti-kidnapping police in the 1990s.

“Innocent, innocent, and I’m going to show it,” Buitrago told reporters as he entered the prosecutor’s office.

Buitrago was Uribe’s security chief in his second term from 2006 to 2010.

Uribe is barred from seeking a third term and is running for Senate in March elections. He said via Twitter on Monday the police and Defense Ministry need to explain why Buitrago was chosen to head his security detail.

Update hourly