Colombian gang leader arrested in prelate's death
BOGOTA, Colombia - (AP) -- The head of a Cali-based gang that trains young
assassins was arrested
in connection with the recent slaying of the city's archbishop, officials said Tuesday.
The man, identified by authorities as John Jairo Maturana, was picked up
in a joint police-army
operation Monday in Cali, Colombia's third-largest city. Authorities said they believe he has information
on the killing, and may even have taken part.
Maturana is the first major suspect arrested in the March 17 killing.
Gunmen killed Archbishop Isaías Duarte Cancino that night as he
was leaving a mass wedding in a poor
He is the highest-ranking Roman Catholic clergyman killed in this country
plagued by 38 years of civil
Authorities have said they suspect cocaine traffickers were behind the
assassination of the bishop, who
had recently denounced the entry of drug dollars in legislative elections.
Gen. Francisco Pedraza of the army's Third Division based in Cali said
Maturana, nicknamed ''Marimba''
and believed to be in his late 20s, was the leader of one of the city's most feared gangs.
''Maturana, in the structure of organized crime, is the head of the assassins
school,'' Pedraza told RCN
''He should be able to give information . . . or could have even participated
in the death of the bishop,
because he is a person who deals in the business of death,'' Pedraza said.
Shown briefly to the media along with a revolver found at the time of the
arrest, Maturana told
reporters he is innocent. Police said he has outstanding arrest warrants for homicide and weapons