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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cali Kingpin Killed by Cops

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Cali cartel kingpin Jose Santacruz Londono, whose escape from prison was cited by the United States as a reason to decertify Colombia as a partner in the anti-drug fight, has been shot and killed by police, authorities said.


National Police director General Rosso Jose Serrano said Santacruz, 54, who escaped in January from the La Picota prison in Bogota, was killed in a shootout with police shortly before midnight Tuesday on a highway outside the northwest city of Medellin.


"He was never going to let himself be captured," Serrano told Colombian radio. He said police had traced Santacruz to Medellin two weeks ago, capping a nationwide manhunt.


Serrano said Santacruz, who had a $2 million price on his head, was traveling in a caravan of cars carrying up to 10 men when his vehicle was stopped on the darkened highway by police. Santacruz died alone, in the front passenger-side seat of a black four-wheel drive vehicle.


The escape of Santacruz -- considered the No. 3 man in what has often been described as the world's largest drug trafficking organization -- was cited by Washington last Friday as one of the reasons for its decision to drop Colombia from a list of favored nations "fully" cooperating in the global struggle against drugs.


The move, strongly criticized by President Ernesto Samper, automatically cut off most U.S. aid to Colombia and made it ineligible for most U.S. government-backed loans.


Serrano emphatically repeated three times at a news conference at the presidential palace early Wednesday that the United States should reconsider its "decertification" of Colombia in light of Santacruz's death.