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Suspected Colombian paramilitary leader Magaly Moreno captured in Venezuela

November 21, 2009 |  6:39 pm

A woman described by Venezuelan authorities as an important leader of a Colombian paramilitary group has been captured, the justice minister said today.

Interpol had called for the arrest of Magaly Janeth Moreno Vega, who was wanted by Colombian officials on homicide charges, said Venezuelan Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami. He referred to the 39-year-old suspect as a paramilitary chief for the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC.

Authorities said she was captured Thursday in Maracaibo, Venezuela. El Aissami said Moreno, nicknamed "The Pearl," deals with "extremely important information" for the paramilitary group.

El Aissami, who spoke on state television, accused Colombian President Alvaro Uribe of "institutional and moral decay" for his government's ties to paramilitary groups that "attack our people and threaten peace and order." 

Moreno previously worked as an investigator for Colombian prosecutors and was detained with her boss several years ago on accusations of aiding militias, according to news reports. Moreno was convicted on conspiracy charges tied to various crimes after she acknowledged working for paramilitary boss Jorge Ivan Laverde, who has said he participated in the killings of more than 2,000 people, the Associated Press reported.

Officials have said Moreno fled when prison officials granted her a temporary parole.

-- Efrain Hernandez Jr.

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