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Colombian Authorities Capture Fugitive Paramilitary Leader

Colombian authorities have captured the fugitive leader of an ultra-right wing paramilitary group who is wanted on murder and drug trafficking charges.

Officials say Ever Veloza was arrested Tuesday in the Uraba region, on the Caribbean coast.

Better known as "Hernan Hernandez," Veloza headed a paramilitary group that controlled the banana-producing region until 2004, when he and other fighters demobilized as part of a government-led peace process.

Veloza became a fugitive last year, when he refused to obey the government's order for paramilitary leaders to give themselves up.

The paramilitaries were assured they would be jailed no longer than eight years in Colombia and would not be extradited to the United States to face drug trafficking charges.

Colombian officials say Veloza does not qualify for a reduced sentence because he continued his paramilitary activities. It is unclear whether the U.S. has requested his extradition.

The right-wing paramilitaries were organized in the 1980s to help landowners defend their property against leftist rebels. The armed groups are involved in the illegal drug trade and control much of Colombia's countryside.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.