Venezuela arrests former beauty queen in drug case

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Caracas, Nov 9 (IANS/EFE) Model Gabriela Alexandra Fernandez Ocando, a Miss Venezuela hopeful in 2008, is under arrest along with four other people on charges of colluding with Colombian drug lord Daniel "El Loco" Barrera, authorities here said.

In a communique, the Venezuelan Attorney General's Office said that Fernandez Ocando faces accusations of money laundering and criminal conspiracy.

Barrera was apprehended Sep 18 in the western Venezuelan state of Tachira.

"It is important to emphasize that these people (the model and the other four suspects) are said to have acted as collaborators of Daniel Barrera and presumably transported him from one place to the other on the national level. In addition, they made reservations in hotels with their names, so that the drug trafficker could evade the authorities," the AG's office said.

Last week, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that very soon Venezuelan authorities will hand over Barrera to Bogota.

Barrera, called by Santos the last of Colombia's great drug trafficking bosses, was arrested in an operation involving security units from Venezuela, the United States and Great Britain.

--IANS/EFE

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