HomeNewsJudge Rules Memo Fantasma Will Remain in Colombia Prison
NEWS

Judge Rules Memo Fantasma Will Remain in Colombia Prison

AUC / 28 OCT 2021 BY INSIGHT CRIME* EN

Accused paramilitary drug lord Guillermo León Acevedo, alias "Memo Fantasma," will remain in a high-security Colombian prison, where he has been jailed for the past four months.

Acevedo's lawyers had petitioned for him to be released from pre-trial detention. But Judge Carlos Alberto Chaparro Martínez ruled October 28 that he should remain in jail to await trial on money laundering, criminal conspiracy, and illicit enrichment charges. Acevedo has denied the charges against him.

On July 3, Acevedo was placed in pre-trial detention in Bogotá's La Modelo prison. Prosecutor Juan David Huepe had previously argued that Acevedo was a flight risk due to his wealth and ability to travel.

After Acevedo's June arrest, Huepe told the court that Acevedo had an extensive record of entering and exiting Colombia, with records showing some 160 exits since 2001. Even amid travel restrictions during the pandemic, Acevedo was able "to travel to Madrid and come here," Huepe said.

SEE ALSO: The Invisible Drug Lord: Hunting 'The Ghost'

Acevedo has a valid visa for Spain, where he has several properties and lived for many years before his capture in Bogotá.

In the previous hearings, prosecutors also argued that Acevedo warranted pre-trial detention amid evidence that he was seeking to tamper with the justice system, including offering a bribe of 100 million pesos (about $26,000) to a functionary at the Attorney General's Office to provide documents and evidence relevant to the case.

In addition, prosecutors alleged Acevedo threatened a former paramilitary said to have provided information against him. Acevedo was part of Colombia's former paramilitary army, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia - AUC), serving as the financial head of one of the most powerful paramilitary divisions or "blocs," the Central Bolívar Bloc (Bloque Central Bolívar – BCB), which demobilized over 5,000 fighters and controlled some of Colombia's most significant drug trafficking real estate. It was also responsible for murdering thousands of Colombians.

Rodrigo Perez Alzate, alias "Julian Bolivar," one of the leaders of the BCB, said that he had received threats in 2015 after making declarations about Acevedo as part of the AUC peace process in the mid-2000s, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors have sought the testimony of five former paramilitaries in the case against Acevedo, including former top AUC commander Salvatore Mancuso.

SEE ALSO: Top Colombian Paramilitary Commander Testifies About Memo Fantasma

Acevedo is standing trial with his mother, Margoth de Jesus Giraldo, and his grandmother, Maria Enriqueta Ramírez, who are also charged with money laundering and illicit enrichment. They have also refused the charges. In the October 28 hearing, the judge also ruled that they will remain under house arrest.

In a 30-page charging document filed on October 20, prosecutors allege that Acevedo and his family have laundered more than 54 billion Colombian pesos (about $14.5 million) through dozens of properties and businesses. They also have about 11.9 billion pesos ( about $3.2 million) in unexplained wealth, prosecutors said.  

Acevedo escaped prosecution for decades before being identified as a businessman living in Spain. Acevedo's shadow life first came to light following an article in El Espectador in 2015 and later following a more extensive, two-year, six-part investigation published by InSight Crime in March 2020.

*InSight Crime Co-director Jeremy McDermott is currently facing criminal libel proceedings brought by Guillermo Acevedo for the series, "The Invisible Drug Lord: Hunting the Ghost." Acevedo has yet to provide any basis for his libel claims.

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

COSTA RICA / 24 MAY 2018

Authorities in Costa Rica have arrested several members of a drug trafficking network led by former security officials, highlighting a…

COLOMBIA / 13 NOV 2019

A massive flow of smuggled fuel from Ecuador into Colombia is benefiting drug traffickers who use it to produce cocaine…

COLOMBIA / 5 DEC 2018

In its fourth season, "Narcos: Mexico" has left Colombia's underworld to zoom in on the country that is now at…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…