BOGOTA, (Reuters) – A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent died from stab wounds in an apparent robbery during a taxi ride from an exclusive part of Bogota late Thursday night, and Colombia’s president said no effort would be spared to find those responsible.
Special Agent James “Terry” Watson was killed after hailing a taxi outside a restaurant in the Colombian capital’s Parque de la 93 area, Colonel Camilo Cabana of the Bogota police told reporters on Friday.
Watson, a 13-year veteran of the DEA, escaped the vehicle after being stabbed and was taken to a local hospital where he died, Cabana said.
President Juan Manuel Santos called on the defense ministry to do everything possible to find the killers.
“Events like last night’s when a DEA agent was killed in a taxi, erases in one swipe all the effort we have made to reduce murder,” Santos said during a ceremony in Bogota where he was promoting police officers.
“No effort should be spared to get those responsible for this murder.”
Santos has been embarrassed several times recently by high-profile crimes against foreigners. Last weekend two Spanish tourists were rescued after being held hostage for almost a month by a crime gang in the north of the country and earlier this year two German travelers were kidnapped by rebels.
Crime in Colombia has fallen sharply over the last decade in step with a U.S.-backed offensive against drug gangs, Marxist rebels and paramilitaries. The murder rate has dropped about 36 percent since 2003, the year after Santos’ predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, took office on a pledge to improve security.
But poverty remains rife in Bogota and crime is one of the top concerns for its residents.