Interpol issues red notice for former Colombian guerrilla leader

FILE PHOTO: Colombia's Marxist FARC Jesus Santrich during a news conference in Bogota

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Interpol on Thursday issued a red notice for a fugitive Colombian lawmaker and former FARC rebel commander who the United States wants extradited for alleged conspiracy to export 10 tonnes of cocaine.

Seuxis Paucias Hernandez - known best by his guerrilla nom de guerre Jesus Santrich - was indicted in 2017 by a U.S. grand jury, setting off a legal saga that has seen him twice arrested and released.

Hernandez has denied the U.S. allegations.

Colombian President Ivan Duque has said Hernandez may have fled to neighboring Venezuela. Duque accuses Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of sheltering leftist rebels and crime gangs, while Maduro has said former commanders are welcome in his country.

"I've said it for a long time - this citizen has behaved like a mafioso and his attitude of going to seek refuge in a country that promotes and defends terrorism - the dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro - confirms that," Duque told journalists in coastal Cartagena.

"I hope this red notice serves to capture this criminal."

Red notices ask authorities worldwide to provisionally detain people pending possible extradition or other legal actions.

Hernandez was one of 10 former FARC commanders who took up positions in congress after the group, now a legal political party, demobilized under a 2016 peace deal.

Another former commander-turned-lawmaker, Luciano Marin - alias Ivan Marquez - also went missing last year after his nephew was arrested and taken to the United States to cooperate with drug-trafficking investigators.


(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb, additional reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by Marguerita Choy)