Gen. Oscar Naranjo's brother arrested with 100 Kilograms of Cocaine

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's version of legendary U.S. agent Eliot Ness, a feared lawman who toppled some of the nation's top mafia leaders, was shaken this week by a drug drama in his own family.

Gen. Oscar Naranjo's brother, 29-year-old Juan David Naranjo, was arrested in Germany with 100 kilograms of drugs, German authorities said. It was not clear if he has been charged or where he was being held.

Naranjo, head of Colombia's judicial police, said Friday he was startled to learn his younger brother was involved in what authorities say appears to be a major European drug trafficking ring.

"Juan David was a normal guy, an honest individual, though we haven't communicated very much in the past few years," Naranjo told The Associated Press. "My family and I could have never imagined he was involved in this."

An official in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, confirmed Juan David Naranjo was arrested in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe for having 100 kilograms of drugs.

The official gave no further details and the type of drug found was not disclosed, but if it was cocaine it would have had a wholesale value in Europe of as much as US $6 million.

Oscar Naranjo said he has yet to speak to his younger brother, and that the amount of drugs allegedly found during his brother's arrest was "news to him." He said he believed two or three others were arrested in the German operation, and that he did not know whether Colombian agencies or officials participated in the investigation.

Backed by President Alvaro Uribe, Naranjo broke the news of his brother's arrest Wednesday.

Dressed in civilian attire and reading from a prepared statement, the renowned criminal investigator said he "never thought that the curse of drug trafficking, which I've fought against tirelessly in 30 years of public service, would reach my own doorstep."

Just as shocked were Colombians because Naranjo had built an exemplary career going after the type of criminals with whom his brother has now been accused of complicity.

Oscar Naranjo, the son of the former head of Colombia's national police and the oldest of seven children, rose through the ranks of the national police by arresting hundreds of drug traffickers who were later extradited to the United States.

He also played a key role in the sting operation that brought down drug lord Pablo Escobar and later led the effort to dismantle the feared Cali cartel. His work has drawn comparisons to Chicago crimebuster Eliot Ness, a U.S. Treasury agent known for taking on mobster Al Capone.

Last month, when the sister of former President Cesar Gaviria was killed during a botched kidnapping attempt, Uribe immediately tapped Naranjo to lead the high-profile criminal investigation, one of the biggest manhunts in years.

"He's a police officer who wears a halo," said Alfredo Rangel, a political analyst. "He's unrivaled as an investigator and for his relentless crusade against Colombia's mafias."

Oscar Naranjo learned of his brother's arrest on May 3, after his sister-in-law informed family in Colombia that Juan David Narjanjo hadn't called in six days.

He said his brother moved to Spain six years ago, where he completed a degree in business management and then entered the fast-food business in Madrid.

The brothers communicated sporadically by e-mail, and last saw each other a year and a half ago when Juan David Naranjo returned to Colombia to get married.

Colombia is the world's biggest supplier of cocaine and half of all shipments are believed to end up in Europe.

Source: Mainichi Daily News

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