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Alleged Colombian drug lord arrested after years on the lam

Hernan Alonso Villa, who was arrested in Spain on Saturday, is accused of running a gang that killed 400 people

Police in the Spanish region of Alicante said Saturday that they had arrested a 40-year-old man who they identified as the head of the military wing of a violent Colombian drug cartel and one of Colombia's most wanted criminals.

The Interior Ministry said the man, Hernan Alonso Villa (known as "Raton" or "Rat" in Spanish), runs a network of more than 200 people involved in extortion and cocaine trafficking to Spain, the United States and the Netherlands.

His organization, La Oficina de Envigado, inherited the business of the Medellin Cartel, the now-defunct drug-trafficking empire set up by Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, the ministry said.

La Oficina de Envigado is accused of carrying out more than 400 killings.

Arrested on Friday after a month-long hunt in a joint operation with Colombian police, Villa is accused of homicide, forced displacement and manufacturing and carrying illegal weapons, the ministry said.

"He took a number of security measures in an attempt to avoid arrest, including constantly changing addresses, changing telephones and using different false identities," it said.

The man was holding more than $50,000 in cash when he was arrested, the ministry said. He is subject to an extradition order by the Colombian police, it said.

Spain is one of the main entry points for illegal narcotics into Europe and Colombia is one of the world's biggest sources of cocaine.

Colombia produced 320 tons of cocaine in 2013, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Wire services

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