HomeNewsBriefCase Against Ex-Uribe Security Chief Goes to Trial in Colombia
BRIEF

Case Against Ex-Uribe Security Chief Goes to Trial in Colombia

COLOMBIA / 27 MAR 2015 BY LOREN RIESENFELD EN

A prosecutor in Colombia will press forward with charges alleging ex-President Alvaro Uribe's security chief helped a convicted drug trafficker launder money, highlighting longstanding accusations that have been leveled against Uribe's family and members of his former administration.

Retired General Flavio Buitrago will be tried in a special court on May 6 for allegedly working with Marco Antonio Gil, a convicted drug trafficker known as "El Papero," reported El Espectador. During the trial, prosecutors plan to present testimony from a former paramilitary commander and one of Gil's extradited business associates alleging that Buitrago formed part of Gil's criminal network.

According to El Espectador, there is ample evidence to suggest that Buitrago maintained connections with paramilitary leaders and drug traffickers for years. The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) even warned Colombian authorities that his name frequently circulated among extradited paramilitary members in US prisons.

Buitrago is the second of Uribe's security chiefs to face scrutiny for alleged criminal connections. General Mauricio Santoyo, who Buitrago replaced, was convicted in a US court in 2012 for aiding paramilitary group the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) and Medellin-based criminal organization the Oficina de Envigado.

InSight Crime Analysis

The case against Buitrago is the latest in a long line of investigations into Uribe's family and associates. While Uribe has claimed his allies are the victims of political persecution, many of his former associates have fled the country to escape charges against them.

Of the accusations against Uribe's inner circle, three cases stand out:

Domestic Spying Scandal

In what has been called the Colombian "Watergate," key members of the Uribe administration, including his former chief of staff and a former intelligence chief, were convicted for illegally wiretapping opposition politicians, judges, human rights activists, and journalists. In the wake of the scandal, President Juan Manuel Santos dismantled the intelligence agency (DAS) responsible for the illegal surveillance.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

Paramilitary Links

In addition to Uribe's own alleged ties to paramilitaries, his brother Santiago Uribe allegedly led a paramilitary group called the 12 Apostles, which was active during the 1990s and, according to witness testimony, trained at a farm owned by the Uribe family. Colombian authorities first opened an investigation into Santiago Uribe in 1996, and his efforts to squash the investigation have been rebuked by the Supreme Court.

The Cifuentes Villa Clan

While the former president has denied any knowledge of her existence, Dolly Cifuentes, the longtime girlfriend of Uribe's brother Jaime, was extradited to the United States in 2012 and pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in 2013. Ana Maria Cifuentes, Alvaro Uribe's niece, has been placed on the US Treasury Department's "kingpin" list (pdf) and identified as a member of the Cifuentes Villa clan, which allegedly helped the Sinaloa Cartel launder money and smuggle over 30 tons of cocaine into the United States in addition to working with other drug trafficking groups.

share icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 1 JAN 2018

In a September 22 letter to Colombia’s UN Verification Mechanism, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de…

ELITES AND CRIME / 17 APR 2015

Authorities in Guatemala have arrested two high-level current and former government officials -- as well as eighteen other suspects --…

COLOMBIA / 11 MAR 2014

Colombia's congressional elections saw 69 candidates believed to have ties with illegal groups win seats, showing how criminal and armed…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.