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Retired Colombian Police General Sentenced to 13 Years For Conspiring to Provide Material Support to Terrorists

DEC 14 (ALEXANDRIA, Va.) - Mauricio Santoyo Velasco, 53, of Colombia, was sentenced today to 13 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiring to provide material support and resources to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Robert Brisolari, Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s Washington Field Division; and Assistant Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, made the announcement sentencing by United States District Judge James C. Cacheris.

“Former General Santoyo took bribes from terrorists – plain and simple,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “The quid pro-quo here was money for information – and for terrorists, information is power.  Mr. Santoyo abused his position in law enforcement, he broke the public trust with the people of Colombia and he empowered a terrorist organization. This prosecution is a significant step in rebuilding that trust by demonstrating our determination to hold rogue individuals like Mr. Santoyo accountable.”

“Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that corrupt officials regardless of their position or title will be investigated to the fullest by the Drug Enforcement Administration,” said Acting DEA SAC Brisolari. “This investigation demonstrates the continued commitment by DEA and the Colombian National Police to impact drug trafficking organizations and those who facilitate them at their highest level.”

Santoyo pleaded guilty on Aug. 20, 2012, to providing material support to a designated terrorist organization.   According to court records, Santoyo held several high-level positions in Colombian law enforcement, including the head of the Colombian National Police’s anti-kidnapping unit.

Privy to sensitive information about law enforcement activities targeting groups that engaged in kidnappings, such as AUC, he accepted bribes in exchange for information and assistance that allowed AUC members and allies to carry out their illegal activities. He informed AUC members and allies about arrest operations and ongoing wiretaps, which included information about operations involving the DEA. This assistance allowed AUC members to evade detection and arrest.

This case was investigated by DEA’s Washington Division Office and the Andean Division.  Mr. MacBride also thanked the Colombian National Police and the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security and Criminal Divisions for their assistance in this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ben’Ary is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

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