Heli Mejia Mendoza was the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia's warden, the one who kept the keys to the chains wrapped around hostages' necks.
He publicly admitted to safeguarding dozens of men and women the rebel group kidnapped and kept captive for years, including three American defense contractors rescued last month.
Mejia -- better known as ''Martin Sombra'' -- was a member of the FARC central general staff, making him the highest-ranking member of Colombia's guerrilla group ever captured, U.S. authorities say.
His indictment earlier this month in a Washington, D.C., federal court on terrorism and kidnapping charges comes after a four-decade career in the jungle, which the U.S. attorney's office said began when he was just a child. The U.S. government says Mejía, who one former captive called an ''an unsophisticated peasant,'' allegedly helped form the insurgency in the 1960s and then worked his way up to become one of the top leadership's most trusted aides.
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