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 / 25 OCT 2021

Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias “Otoniel,” was the most-wanted man in Colombia. His arrest was seen as so significant that a…


A central Texas lawyer known as the “DWI Dude” will spend more than 15 years in federal prison after deceiving…


While unrest gripped much of Latin America in 2019, it was the coronavirus that took center stage and ripped through…

About InSight Crime


Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.


InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.


Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …


InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…


Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…