Dozens of properties and other assets seized from Memo Fantasma, allegedly one of Colombia’s foremost drug traffickers, will be used to provide support for those who have suffered from violence in the country.
On September 14, Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office announced it would be handing over three offices and 20 parking spaces in Bogotá to the Victims’ Reparation Fund (Fondo para la Reparación a las Víctimas).
The three offices, located in Bogotá’s Torre 85, were valued at 9.8 billion Colombian pesos ($2.1 million) and the 20 parking spaces at 1 billion Colombian pesos ($220,000). These assets are only part of the estate seized from Guillermo León Acevedo Giraldo, alias “Memo Fantasma,” a former paramilitary leader and longtime drug trafficker that InSight Crime identified and later located living a luxury life in Madrid in 2020.
Acevedo was arrested in Bogotá in June 2021. His portfolio of assets around Colombia was worth 66.6 billion Colombian pesos ($17.3 million), according to the Attorney General’s Office.
This transfer was just one of several transfers of seized criminal assets to the Victims’ Reparation Fund.
In August, properties worth $7.7 million and linked to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia - AUC), which Acevedo was once a part of, were also transferred to the Fund.
The Fund then uses these profits in a variety of ways. These range from support for setting up new companies, as happened for 302 families in Antioquia in September, to distributing goods that were seized from smugglers.
InSight Crime Analysis
As part of its investigation which uncovered Memo Fantasma’s life in Madrid, InSight Crime revealed that Acevedo had acquired a series of lots that were later turned into Torre 85 by using his mother and grandmother’s names, Margoth de Jesús Giraldo Ramírez and María Enriqueta Ramírez.
Both women are facing charges of money laundering but have pled not guilty. Acevedo teamed up with Hitos Urbanos Limitada, a company owned by Colombia’s Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez and her husband, Álvaro Rincón.
In exchange for handing over his properties, Acevedo was granted offices and parking lots inside Torre 85, which have now been turned over to the Victims’ Reparation Fund.
While Rincón admitted working with Acevedo, he denied any knowledge of his criminal past. And Ramírez filed criminal complaints against InSight Crime Co-director for “affecting her right to moral integrity, good name, dignity and honor.” The complaint was later withdrawn.
To be sure, Colombia’s oversight of seized criminal assets has not been perfect, marred by allegations of corruption and mismanagement. But this decision by the Attorney General’s Unit brings one chapter of Memo Fantasma’s criminal past to a close.
And seeing profits amassed by Acevedo over a long criminal career stretching back to the Medellín Cartel used to compensate victims of violence provides a real sense of catharsis.