Spanish police detain two wanted Colombian hitmen

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Spanish police have detained two Colombian suspected hitmen in the service of drug cartels wanted for their involvement in murders, kidnappings and torture, the interior ministry said Tuesday.

Henry Norberto Valdes Marin alias Pollo, 36, and Mauricio Alberto Gonzalez Sepulveda, 44, were arrested in the eastern region of Valencia, it said in a statement.

"These are the most dangerous Colombian citizens to have been detained in Spain up until now due to their history and the variety of criminal activities that they were involved with," the ministry said.

The suspects, who were also wanted for drug trafficking and illegal weapons possession, are suspected of working for Colombian drug cartels to claim debts.

Police suspect they moved to Spain with the aim of continuing their criminal activities in the country, a main entry point for South American cocaine bound for sale in Europe.

The suspects used fake identities in Spain and one of them had altered his fingerprints to evade arrest.

Valdes Marin is believed to have acted as the logistics chief of the "collection agency" of La Negra, a group of hitmen linked with Colombia's Norte del Valle drug cartel.

La Negra operates in eight countries and is held responsible for the murder of more than 200 people in Colombia alone.

Among its victims is Colombian footballer Albeiro "El Palomo" Usuriaga, who was gunned down in 2004 by a 15-year-old, as well as intelligence and police officers.

Gonzalez Sepulveda is suspected of working for Colombia's Envigado drug ring.

He was one of the leaders of the paramilitary organisation United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), which now officially dissolved.

Spanish police carried out the arrests in cooperation with their Colombian counterparts. The two suspects are expected be be extradited to Colombia.

© 2010 AFP

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