Page last updated at 08:06 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Arrests in Colombian anti-drugs raid with Mexico link

Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman - 1993 photo
Some of the suspects are said to be linked to Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman

More than 20 people have been arrested in several Colombian cities, in what is being described as the biggest anti-drugs operation in a decade.

Colombian police say the arrests are the culmination of a two-year investigation, supported by US agents.

Half of the suspects are experienced pilots, accused of carrying cocaine to Central America and Mexico.

Police say some suspects are linked to Mexican cartels responsible for most of the illegal drugs supplied to the US.

One of the cartels, the Sinaloa, is led by Mexico's most wanted man, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.

Turning to Europe

Colombian police chief Oscar Naranjo said the offensive was the largest against drugs traffickers since 1999.

Those arrested are being traced to a syndicate that link the Mexican drug cartels with Colombia's two most powerful drugs trafficking organisations, those of Daniel " The Madman" Barrera and the Rastrojos.

Investigations into the syndicate began in the city of Medellin where the organisation apparently had its roots.

The Colombian police were supported by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as well as the attorney general's office in Dallas.

The BBC's Jeremy McDermott in Medellin says that in recent years the Mexican drug cartels have overtaken their Colombian counterparts in both power and brutality.

The Colombian cartels are now increasingly looking towards Europe, rather then the US, where prices are higher and the chances of extradition much lower.

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