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Cali Drug Cartel Kingpin Escapes from Bogota Prison

January 11, 1996

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ One of the top three leaders of the Cali drug cartel escaped Thursday from a prison in Bogota.

Jose Santacruz Londono apparently snuck out of Bogota’s La Picota prison Thursday afternoon, said Miller Rubio, spokesman for the Prisons Institute.

Rubio said a car belonging to the prosecutor general’s office arrived at the prison Thursday morning. An identical car returned to the prison in the afternoon, and authorities believe it was used to sneak Santacruz out.

The assistant chief of police led a team of officers, including an elite squad known as the Search Block, to recapture the drug lord.

Santacruz was arrested last July 4 in a plush Bogota steak house. He was awaiting trial on charges of illicit enrichment, conspiracy and the murder of a state governor.