The acting U.S Attorney General Matthew Whitaker made a surprise appearance on Wednesday in the Colombian capital to meet his counterpart, Prosecutor General Néstor Humberto Martínez. The senior U.S law enforcement official came to Bogotá to participate in the Colombo-American Judicial Summit with the purpose of strengthening bilateral efforts in fighting organized crime.
The official meeting, planned for several weeks, had the backing of the White House and allowed Whitaker to review recent investigations and operational results related to the dismantling of criminal groups and illicit financing. Whitakers’s visit came just over a week after the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla detonated a car bomb inside a Police Academy killing 20 cadets. The ELN is considered a terrorist organization by both the United States government and European Union, and at war with the Colombian government for more than a half-century.
Among the topics discussed between the representatives of the two nations were changes to the current extradition agreement and establishing a closer working relationship with investigations relating to transnational corruption.
The delegates also discussed the case involving former FARC commander, Seuxis Hernández, known by his wartime alias “Jesús Santrich,” currently under arrest for allegedly conspiring to ship 10,000kgs to the U.S while a member of the guerrilla’s peace negotiating team. Santrich is wanted in extradition by New York prosecutors.
Whitaker’s visit was also marked by the arrival of several U.S military transport planes, including a C17A Globe Master, capable of moving more than 100 soldiers, special forces and vehicles.
Whitaker is the most senior U.S Government official to visit Colombia since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came to Cartagena in early January to meet President Iván Duque.
The U.S delegation included Chief of Staff, Gary Barnett; National Security Adviser William Levy; Assistant Deputy Prosecutor General Bruce Swart; the liaison between the Department of Justice and White House, Lindsey De la Torre; the director of the Office of Public Affairs, Kerri Kupec; and the judicial attachés Marlon Cobar and Brian Skaret.