And he looks ever the boy when he puts on an industrial-sized apron, thick gloves and a metal helmet - the tools of an apprentice welder at the Don Bosco center in this city in southern Colombia.
It's a big complex, complete with classrooms, basketball courts, a dormitory and work rooms. It's home to boys and girls, as well as very young adults, who defected from the FARC rebels or were captured by the Colombian army.
A suspected drug kingpin from the tiny West African nation of Guinea-Bissau was captured on the high seas by agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency earlier this month, brought to Manhattan and is now awaiting trial.
The dramatic sting operation sheds light on what officials say is a growing national security threat: criminal networks teaming up with extremist organizations.
Originally published on Mon February 27, 2012 1:05 pm
The rebel group that has made kidnapping a central part of its operating procedure in Colombia says it is halting the practice and releasing 10 security force members it has held for as long as 14 years.
"From this day on we are halting the practice in our revolutionary activity," the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said in a statement released on its website.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos issued a cautious message on Twitter.