EL ESPECTADOR, December 13, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

According to the Attorney General’s Office, Manuel Antonio Castañeda Bernal offered the police 300 million pesos (roughly USD $63,000 at today’s exchange rates) if they would free him when they surprised him carrying a shipment of cocaine on a public road.

Manuel Antonio Castañeda Bernal is the man in the National Protection Unit (UNP) SUV who was surprised while transporting cocaine in the early morning of December 10. The prosecutors have charged him with trafficking, fabricating or carrying illegal drugs, as well as bribery for giving or offering a bribe, after he tried to bribe the police who arrested him. Castañeda has not admitted the charges. However, the judge at his preliminary hearing decided to bind him over to preventive detention while the investigation continues.

Castañeda Bernal was stopped at a routine police checkpoint. But when the agents searched his vehicle, they found packets of a white substance with a strong odor, wound in beige color strips. “All of them were marked with the number 727 and, in the technical examinations, they tested positive for cocaine and its derivatives,” stated the Attorney General’s Office in a statement. After verifying the ownership of the vehicle, the agents learned that it belonged to the UNP.

The prosecutor described the case as follows at the preliminary hearing: “At a Police checkpoint in the Municipality of Totoró (Cauca Department) officers report that they observed a vehicle that, for its speed, and its reaction to the Police, was halted at 2:15 a.m. for inspection of the vehicle, and to verify the person driving and what he was carrying. After detaining him until 5:00 a.m., they were able to confirm the capture of Manuel Antonio Castañeda Bernal.”

It appears, after a search of the vehicle’s interior, which took 3 hours, Castañeda Bernal got out of the car and tried to bribe the officers that were arresting him. “This person offered the Police 300 million pesos (roughly USD $63,000 at today’s exchange rate) to let him go, but the Officer refused it. On the contrary, he reported both the arrest and the bribe offer,” added the prosecutor.

Castañeda Bernal was then arrested and taken to a judge for a preliminary hearing. The UNP has confirmed on social networks that it is the owner of the car and that, in fact, it’s a car assigned to the security squad of a former official of the agency, Ronald Rodríguez Rozo, the former Assistant Director of Protection.


National Protection Unit


Developments in the Manuel Castañeda case.

At a preliminary hearing this morning, the judge held that the arrest was legal, the Attorney General’s Office filed charges, and he was bound over for trial. The authorities have assured his safe transport. The suspect is being heavily guarded.

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