HomeNewsBriefColombian Paramilitary Leaders Face Decades in US Prison
BRIEF

Colombian Paramilitary Leaders Face Decades in US Prison

AUC / 10 JUN 2015 BY SAM TABORY EN

Colombian former paramilitary leaders Salvatore Mancuso and "Jorge 40" are facing long sentences after being convicted on US drug trafficking charges. However, the cocaine trafficking networks they once controlled are alive and well under the management of a new generation of criminal groups.

Documents obtained from the prosecution by Colombian media reveal that Salvatore Mancuso faces a likely sentence of 21 years in federal prison, while Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias "Jorge 40," faces up to 30 years, reported El Colombiano. The sentences will be announced on June 30.

Mancuso's sentence included a 35 percent reduction for his cooperation with US justice, but his lawyers strongly criticized the court for refusing a petition to reduce the paramilitary's sentence based on his cooperation with Colombian justice, reported El Tiempo.

Both men held high-ranking positions in the paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). The two were extradited to the United States in 2008 along with 12 other paramilitary leaders suspected of cocaine trafficking. The abrupt extraditions of the 14 came amid mounting accusations about the AUC's connections to high-level politicians, leading to questions about whether then-President Alvaro Uribe had the leaders extradited in an effort to silence them about their links with Colombia's political elites.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime

The prison time Mancuso and Jorge 40 face in the United States stems only from convictions for drug trafficking, despite the fact that both men were responsible for murder and displacement on a large scale in their home country. Mancuso faces additional charges in Colombian courts for "crimes against humanity" allegedly committed during his time as a paramilitary leader, including torture and enforced disappearances.

It is unclear if Mancuso will be returned to Colombia to face these charges, in part because of security concerns regarding retaliation against former AUC commanders. The recent assassination of a former AUC leader just days after he was released from prison highlights this threat. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

The impending sentencing will be a victory for the US Justice Department, but underscores important concerns about the dubious effectiveness of extraditing paramilitary leaders-turned-drug traffickers. The readiness of US prosecutors to negotiate plea bargains, the possibility of early release, and better prison conditions have led to a situation in which extradition to the United States is now the preferred option for some convicted Colombian druglords.

It is important to note that despite these high-profile convictions, the drug trafficking networks once under the incarcerated AUC leaders' control are still in use. As the AUC demobilized between 2003 and 2006, many of their criminal operations were simply handed on to a new generation of decentralized criminal networks known as the BACRIM (from the Spanish words for "criminal bands"). Much of Mancuso's former territory is now thought to be under the control of the Urabeños, Colombia's biggest criminal network, while Jorge 40's is disputed between the Urabeños and the rival Oficina del Caribe.

share icon icon icon

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

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

CHINA AND CRIME / 14 MAY 2021

When hundreds of skinned donkeys appeared on Colombia’s northern coast without explanation, locals, and later authorities, started asking questions.

ELITES AND CRIME / 22 OCT 2021

Business partners of Álex Saab have been indicted by US prosecutors on charges of being part of a multi-million dollar…

COLOMBIA / 16 JUN 2022

Jobanis de Jesús Ávila Villadiego, alias "Chiquito Malo," is the current commander of the Urabeños.

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…