Police chief sacked after claiming to have used exorcisms to catch drug lords

Sanabria comp
General Henry Sanabria claimed police chiefs used religious practices to take down criminal figures like Pablo Escobar (Picture: REX/YouTube/Noticias Caracol)

Colombia’s national police director lost his job after claiming to have used exorcisms to catch criminals.

Gustavo Petro, the country’s president, dismissed General Henry Sanabria from office on Wednesday.

Neither President Petro nor the Colombian Defence Ministry have publicly elaborated on the reasons behind the decision.

But Sanabria, a devout Catholic, had already been under investigation over allegations he’d allowed his religious beliefs to interfere with the execution of his duties as the country’s senior-most police officer.

His statements were made during an interview with Semana magazine last month.

He claimed that Colombian police chiefs have used religious practices, including exorcism, for more than 50 years to take down powerful criminal figures like Pablo Escobar.

Sanabria added ‘criminals use witchcraft’ and that there is no doubt about the existence of the devil.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Sebastian Barros/NurPhoto/Shutterstock (13850863f) Colombia's police director, General Henry Sanabria Cely during a press conference between the Colombian Judicial Police (DIJIN), the Ministry of Defense and representatives of U.S. government agencies; DEA, FBI and Homeland Security (HSI) in Bogota, Colombia, March 29, 2023. Colombian Police Capture 52 Allegedly Involved In Drug Trafficking Financing, Bogota - 29 Mar 2023
Sanabria took up the post last August (Picture: Sebastian Barros/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)

He also issued a strong condemnation of abortion, which is legal in Colombia.

Alfonso Prada, the Colombian Interior Minister, stressed on Wednesday the decision to dismiss Sanabria was not related to his religious beliefs.

Appointing Sanabria last August, President Petro said that while Sanabria would never be persecuted for his faith, there would nevertheless have to be a clear separation between state and religion.

William Salamanca
Sanabria will be replaced with William Salamanca (Picture: YouTube/Noticias Caracol)

He issued a statement on Twitter thanking the former police chief for his service.

General Sanabria will be replaced by another retired general, William Salamanca, who currently represents Colombia as consul in Miami.

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