Bolivia's Former Top Drug Cop Gets 14 Years for Coke Smuggling

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Rene Sanabria, the man who was once charged with policing Bolivia's drug trade, will serve 14 years in an American clink for masterminding a plot to smuggle 315 pounds of Bolivian marching powder into the country. Sanabria had pleaded guilty to the charges in June after being accused of the crime in March.

Sanabria, a former army general, ran Bolivia's anti-narcotics police unit from 2007 to 2008, and since 2009 up to his arrest, had been considered a top advisor to Evo Morales's interior minister.

While serving as an advisor, Sanabria and his associates conspired with what turned out to be undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents to transport up to $250,000 worth of cocaine to America from Bolivia. Sanabria sent a test shipment of 220 pounds of yayo to Miami in November. The shipment was seized, and shortly thereafter Sanabira was arrested.

"It is hard to conceive how he could have offended the interests of the United States more than by his conduct in this case," U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro said at the sentencing hearing in Miami. "It seems very appropriate, I believe, for a lengthy sentence in order to deter similar conduct by officials in other countries."

Bolivian President Evo Morales had handpicked Sanabria to run the anti-narcotics unit after banishing the DEA from his country in 2008. Sanabria's arrest turned into major embarrassment for the controversial leader.

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