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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 August 2007, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Brazil holds Colombia 'drug lord'
Police photos of Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia
Ramirez Abadia is accused of drug trafficking since 1986
Brazilian police have arrested a man alleged to be one of Colombia's most wanted traffickers, officials say.

Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia was captured near Sao Paulo as part of a major drugs investigation.

Mr Ramirez Abadia, known as Chupeta or Lollypop, is suspected of ordering hundreds of murders in Colombia and the US, the US authorities say.

The US state department describes him as one of the most powerful and elusive Colombian drug traffickers.

Brazilian federal police said Mr Ramirez Abadia's arrest followed a two-year investigation into a Colombian drug trafficking gang that sent huge amounts of cocaine to the US and Europe and laundered the proceeds by buying up property in Brazil.

He was detained during a dawn raid on a luxury flat in the town of Aldeia da Serra as part of an operation across six Brazilian states, a police statement said.

Several other arrests were made as police searched some 30 properties.

Personal wealth

The US had been offering a $5m (2.5m) reward for information leading to his arrest.

Mr Ramirez Abadia, 44, has been accused of involvement in the illegal drugs trade since 1986. He surrendered to a Colombian court in 1996 but was released from prison in 2002.

The US authorities say he has continued his drug trafficking activities and is one of the leaders of Colombia's powerful Norte del Valle drug cartel.

The state department says his personal wealth is alleged to have reached more than $1.8bn (900m), although he is also said to be in debt to several other traffickers.

The American authorities regard him as extremely violent and he is suspected of organising hundreds of killings of both police officers and informants in the US and Colombia.

It was not immediately known whether he would be sent to the US to face charges, returned to Colombia or would face charges in Brazil.

Ramirez Abadia is led away by police

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