Military weapons sold to Colombia druglords

Bogota - Colombian authorities have arrested more than a dozen people, most of them former soldiers and police accused of selling stolen military weaponry to drug traffickers.

The arrests, announced late Monday by Deputy Attorney General Jorge Perdomo, were the latest in a series of scandals rocking the military.

Policemen take part in training during the Jungla International Course, in Chicoral near Ibague. REUTERS/John Vizcaino. Credit: REUTERS

Perdomo said 13 suspects were taken into custody in 10 cities after a two year investigation supported by communications intercepts.

The alleged brains behind the ring was a retired colonel, who is also under investigation in another scandal involving the murders of civilians who were then passed off as guerrillas killed in combat, according to Perdomo.

Numerous illegal armed groups operate in Colombia, including leftist guerrillas and former far right paramilitary groups that were disbanded in 2006 but some of whose members have turned to drug trafficking.

Among those taken in for questioning were eight active duty and four former military personnel, two former police officers and three civilians, Perdomo said.

They are accused of stealing weapons from military stocks to sell them to former paramilitary groups engaged in drug trafficking, according to authorities.

“We will not tolerate this type of behavior under any circumstances,” said General Jaime Lasprilla, the Colombian army chief.

President Juan Manuel Santos has recently made changes in the army's leadership in response to a series of military scandals.

The most sensational has been revelations that an army intelligence unit was hacking the communications of the president's negotiating team at peace talks with the FARC, the country's largest and oldest guerrilla group.