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Colombia police arrest 238 suspected drug dealers

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Bogota (AFP)

A nationwide police raid nabbed 238 suspected narcotics dealers and hitmen, dismantling 15 criminal gangs suspected of enlisting minors and homeless people to sell illegal drugs, authorities in Colombia said Friday.

Those captured "are not only linked to drug trafficking, but also to killing of 63 people," Police Chief General Jorge Hernando Nieto told reporters.

During the counter-narcotics operation, authorities also allegedly found the suspects committing other crimes including murders, extortion, robbery, illegal possession of firearms and using children to commit crimes.

According to authorities, who infiltrated the gangs as part of Colombia's "Operation Temis II," the suspects used children, homeless people, cab drivers and street vendors to sell drugs.

"Some of the dismantled organizations were formed by family clans who have devoted themselves to this illicit activity for generations," a statement read.

The world's largest grower of coca, the plant from which cocaine is made, Colombia is also the largest producer of the drug, with an estimated 646 tonnes last year alone, according to the United Nations.

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