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Page last updated at 11:34 GMT, Thursday, 21 May 2009 12:34 UK

'Drugs gang' arrested in Colombia

Police officers patrol a poor neighborhood in Medellin, Colombia, 9 April 2009
The Colombian president has vowed to overcome the drugs cartels

Colombian security forces have arrested 112 suspected members of one of the country's most powerful drugs cartels.

The heavily-armed unit belonging to the Rastrojos - the armed wing of the Norte del Valle cartel - surrendered in Choco province, near the border with Panama.

They had been surrounded during a Colombian military operation that involved army and naval units.

The Rastrojos had become such a big threat that President Alvaro Uribe declared them his main target.

The men had formed a private army controlling a crucial part of the Pacific Coast in Choco province, a launch pad for cocaine leaving Colombia, the BBC's Jeremy McDemrott reports from Bogota.

It is considered a major player in Colombia's illegal drugs trade, which accounts for exports of more than 600 tonnes of cocaine and heroin every year, our correspondent adds.

The cartel is headed by Luis Enrique Calle, better know by his alias "Combatant".

It is reported to have spread across the country, with groups of heavily-armed drugs traffickers now present all along the coast and the frontier with Ecuador.



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