HomeNewsFormer Paramilitary Hernán Giraldo Charged With Child Sexual Abuse in Colombia

Former Paramilitary Hernán Giraldo Charged With Child Sexual Abuse in Colombia


In a case that could have far-reaching legal implications, an infamous former paramilitary commander of Colombia’s once-feared right-wing self-defense forces has formally been charged with sexually abusing minors.

Colombia's Attorney General's Office announced the charges on September 8 after several months of investigating Hernán Giraldo Serna, alias "El Taladro” (The Drill), a former commander with the so-called Tayrona Resistance Bloc of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia - AUC).

SEE ALSO: The Paramilitaries and Sexual Violence in the Caribbean Coast of Colombia

"The evidence collected by the Colombian Attorney General's Office indicates that at least four minors were exploited and tricked into [going to] detention centers located in [the departments of] Antioquia and Atlántico, where Giraldo was detained between February 2006 and May 2008," prosecutors stated

Importantly, the Attorney General’s Office said these were crimes against humanity, a distinction that could open the door to prosecutions of other war criminals for similar offenses. Giraldo was also charged with violent sexual assault, human trafficking, and forced abortion.

InSight Crime Analysis

The designation of Giraldo's acts of sexual violence as crimes against humanity is significant because by designating this as a war crime, it is saying there is no statute of limitations on such offenses. 

The cases of sexual violence Giraldo has been charged with were not the only abuses he is believed to have committed. Giraldo, also known as Colombia's "biggest predator," allegedly committed more than 200 rapes of young girls during his paramilitary command.

From the 1980s until his demobilization in 2006, Giraldo and his men dominated the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta on Colombia's Caribbean coast, in large part through the alleged systematic abuse of girls and women.

Indeed, sexual violence was the weapon of war used by Giraldo and his group to control territory and perpetuate their criminal empire, as InSight Crime documented in an in-depth investigation. 

Still, it's not clear if these additional criminal cases will be litigated since Giraldo was already sentenced for these and other crimes in 2018 through Colombia’s Justice and Peace courts, which handle crimes committed by demobilized paramilitaries.

SEE ALSO: A Criminal Empire that Abused Girls and Women

Nonetheless, the decision sets a precedent that would ensure these types of crimes -- committed on a large scale during the conflict -- can be litigated for other alleged war criminals. Other investigations carried out by organizations like the Truth Commission, the body in charge of investigating and exposing abuses committed during the conflict, chronicled the use of sexual violence by armed actors.

“We [the commission] observed that paramilitaries in particular, and especially those fronts located in the Caribbean, [and the departments of] Meta and Putumayo, used sexual violence to threaten people and deprive them of their land. There was an intentionality behind sexual violence [that was] linked to territorial control for the benefit of economic and political interests," Truth Commissioner Alejandra Miller told InSight Crime.

What's more, if convicted, Giraldo would lose the benefits of the Justice and Peace Law, which granted him lighter sentences of up to eight years in prison, and would instead be tried by the ordinary justice system.

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.


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.


Related Content

COLOMBIA / 29 JUL 2021

Colombia’s announcement of a large-scale military deployment to Norte de Santander, one of its most complex criminal hotspots, has thrust…

COLOMBIA / 18 MAY 2021

The killing of a notorious Colombian dissident guerrilla leader on Venezuelan soil has the potential to destabilize underworld dynamics in…

COCA / 25 MAR 2021

The sheer size of Colombia's reserves makes them a target for the illegal clearing, appropriation and sale of protected land.

About InSight Crime


Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…


Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…


World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…


InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…


Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…