One of Colombia's most wanted cocaine traffickers, Luis Hernando Gomez Bustamante, has been arrested in Cuba, Colombia's top policeman said on Friday.
Gomez Bustamante, one of the heads of the powerful Norte del Valle drug gang and wanted for extradition to the United States, would be one of the most important Colombian cocaine lords to be captured in years.
"They are telling us from Cuba that this individual was captured on July 2. He entered the island using a forged Venezuelan passport," said police Gen. Jorge Daniel Castro, adding that Colombian authorities were working to extradite him.
Colombia has an extradition treaty with Cuba, said a Colombian foreign ministry official.
Earlier this year, Colombia's government set up an elite police unit to smash the Norte del Valle, one of the biggest cocaine exporting organizations and a major supplier to the United States.
Police confiscated hundreds of millions of dollars of luxury goods and real estate, and said they thought the organization was on the verge of collapse.
Known by the nickname "Rasguno," which means "Scratch," Gomez Bustamante was involved in a bloody turf battle with a rival Norte del Valle boss which has claimed dozens of lives and led some gang members to inform on their comrades to Colombian and U.S. authorities.
If returned to Colombia, Gomez Bustamante will join a long list of cocaine lords awaiting extradition to the United States, including the former heads of the Cali Cartel.
The police have arrested or killed many cocaine traffickers in more than a decade of struggle, most notably former Medellin Cartel boss Pablo Escobar, who was gunned down on a rooftop in his hometown Medellin in 1993.
But new smuggling rings have always filled the vacuum left by fallen crime bosses and cocaine exports do not seem to have been reduced.
Cocaine money also buys guns for Marxist rebels and far-right paramilitaries waging a four-decade-old war claiming thousands of lives a year.
The United States is funding a huge aerial spraying program aimed at eliminating coca crops used to make cocaine, which are often guarded by paramilitaries or rebels.