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Colombia: FARC Warns Peace Deal at 'Most Critical Point' After Leader Arrest

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Seusis Hernandez could face extradition to the United States

Colombia's peace process has been shaken by the arrest on drug trafficking charges of a senior member of the former guerrilla group Farc, who was expected to take a seat in congress in July.

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel commander Jesus Santrich flashes a victory hand signal at the end of a news conference in Bogota, Colombia, in 2016.

A USA indictment accuses Santrich and three others of conspiring to distribute 10 metric tons of cocaine with a wholesale value of $15 million in the United States and purporting to have access to drug labs and US -registered planes for transport.

The Spanish-language newspaper El Espectador reports that after Santrich's arrest, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos endorsed the extradition of the former rebel, noting that any immunity from prosecution covered by the peace agreement wouldn't apply because the alleged crime took place after it was signed. "It's a very bad message for the Colombian people, for the former combatants and for the peace that our country so badly needs".

Since then, the FARC has disarmed and transformed itself into a political party, swapping its crossed-rifles emblem for a red rose.

Hernandez and his co-conspirators allegedly told the buyers that they had access to laboratories to supply the cocaine, to US-registered aircrafts to move the drugs and provided evidence of access to large quantities of cocaine.

Meanwhile, ex-FARC combatants accused US and Colombian officials of orchestrating a set-up against Santrich and warned it likely will sow further skepticism among former rebels already doubtful that the government will follow through on its end of the peace accord. It provided a copy of part of a Colombian search warrant that said authorities raided his home in Bogota at the request of the U.S. Embassy.

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Under terms of the accord, rebels who lay down their weapons and confess their war crimes to special peace tribunals are to be spared jail time and extradition. However, they're not secure for offenses perpetrated after the December 2016 signing.

Even the FARC extended financed their insurgency by leveling a "war tax" on cocaine proceeding through land the rebels dominated.

Fifty members of its leadership structure - though not Santrich - were indicted in 2006 in the USA on charges of running the world's largest drug cartel.

However, the rebels consistently refused direct involvement in the business itself and rebel peace negotiators in 2013 denounced drug trafficking like a "scourge" that has "contaminated" the worldwide economic climate and also generated a global health catastrophe.

Some dissident members of the FARC are said to have turned to drug trafficking and other criminal endeavors.

"Like addicts they just can't quit the business", he added.

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