HomeNewsBriefMass Release of Paramilitaries Could Disrupt Colombia Underworld
BRIEF

Mass Release of Paramilitaries Could Disrupt Colombia Underworld

AUC / 16 JUN 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

Over 400 former paramilitary fighters in Colombia, including numerous ex-leaders, are slated for release from prison by December 2014, an event that could cause criminal upheaval should they get drawn back into the underworld. 

After serving eight years in prison under Colombia's Justice and Peace law -- a transitional justice program implemented during former President Alvaro Uribe's administration -- 442 former paramilitaries from the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) are eligible for release before December, reported Caracol.

Among those on the list of eligible prisoners are Ramon Maria Isaza Arango, alias "El Viejo," who founded one of Colombia's first self-defense groups, and the notorious Freddy Rendon Herrera, alias "El Aleman," who commanded an estimated 2,000 soldiers in the Uraba region. Other senior figures to be released include Jesus Ignacio Roldan Perez, alias "Manoleche" -- security chief to the infamous AUC warlords the Castaño brothers -- and Ivan Roberto Duque alias "Ernesto Baez," who played a pioneering role in the development of the AUC's political networks.

The list also includes some of the leaders responsible for the country's worst massacres, which -- according to the Prosecutor General's Office -- left at least 400,000 dead. 

In a last-minute effort to keep the former leaders from returning to criminal activity, the Prosecutor General's Office is preparing new charges against some of the worst offenders, according to Caracol. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The paramilitary leaders released this year will encounter a very different criminal landscape from the one they left behind. The breakup of the AUC created a new generation of criminal-paramilitary hybrids known as the BACRIM (from the Spanish for "criminal bands"), who shed the AUC's political facade and quasi-military structures and focused on criminal revenues. 

In this new criminal landscape, leaders like Isaza, who were part of an older generation of paramilitary fighters that were more truly counter-insurgent in their focus, will likely attempt some sort of retirement. However, if they are seen as rivals by current groups, they could find themselves drawn back in to the underworld for their own protection.

Others, like El Aleman, have close ties to successor groups and may use the influence they exerted in their former areas of operation to work with the BACRIM. In Rendon's case, the links are especially strong: Rendon's brother Daniel, alias "Don Mario," founded the most powerful of the new generation groups, the Urabeños, by recruiting many of El Aleman's former fighters. 

SEE ALSO: AUC Profile 

Other former leaders may attempt to regain control of territories they previously ruled, especially in areas where criminal groups have been weakened and divided. The region known as the Eastern Plains, for example, is embroiled in a bitter turf war fought by fractured BACRIM groups, which could create an opportunity for former AUC commanders from the region, such as Manuel de Jesus Piraban, alias "Pirata."

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

COLOMBIA / 19 FEB 2018

The governments of Colombia and Ecuador have agreed to ramp up security cooperation along their shared border as criminal violence…

COLOMBIA / 27 JUL 2016

Colombia's seizure of a huge cocaine production complex is a clear sign that the drug trade is as strong as…

COLOMBIA / 24 OCT 2013

World police agency Interpol says more than one million people die each year from counterfeit drugs, highlighting one of the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…

THE ORGANIZATION

Coverage of Fallen Paraguay Prosecutor Makes Headlines

20 MAY 2022

The murder of leading anti-crime prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci, while on honeymoon in Colombia, has drawn attention to the evolution of organized crime in Paraguay. While 17 people have been arrested…