LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Jorge Roca Suarez, one of South America's leading drug traffickers in the 1980s who served 28 years in prison in the United States before returning to Bolivia earlier this year, has fled a medical clinic where he was receiving treatment, authorities said Saturday.
Police said an operation was underway to find Roca Suarez, who had been arrested when he returned to Bolivia in April. A judge had given a 10-day pass to the 67-year-old to seek treatment at the clinic and he fled the facility Thursday night.
"We have to confirm the escape of this person who was serving a detention ordered by a court," Fernando Rojas, deputy director of the Special Force to Fight Crime, told state news agency ABI.
Roca Suarez became a top drug lord after taking over from his uncle Roberto Suarez, who was known as the "Cocaine King." Both men were suppliers to the Medellin Cartel then led by Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
A video posted by the Santa Cruz newspaper El Deber purportedly showed Roca Suarez eating in a market in the town of San Ana de Yacuma, about 690 kilometers (430 miles) north of La Paz. Authorities have yet to comment on the video.
Roca Suarez was arrested in his house in Los Angeles in 1990. He had been in prison in the U.S. since then but was given early release and returned to Bolivia this year. Authorities in the Andean, cocaine-producing country jailed him in a drug-related case.