Massive Extradition of Paramilitary Bosses in Colombia

What has happened with extradited paramilitary bosses from Colombia

After being extradited to the United States from Colombia, many former paramilitary bosses have completed their sentences. Some were recaptured for other crimes after being set free in the U.S. and sent back to Colombia. Others are still behind bars.

A few like Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, aka Jorge 40, were set free recently after completing a 12 year sentence in the United States for drug trafficking. After arriving in Colombia, he was detained and taken to prison to begin serving a 47-year sentence for multiple murders. He also faces more than one thousand criminal charges pending against him in Colombia. These charges are related to his illegal activities while a member of a paramilitary group.

Why were paramilitary bosses extradited

Colombian paramilitary bosses were extradited to the US because they failed to comply with a 2003 treaty, which gave them reduced jail sentences for confessing their crimes and surrendering assets. The Colombian government declared in early 2008 that the paramilitary bosses refused to perform their side of the deal. This led to their extradition in May of the same year.

Supposedly, these extradited paramilitary bosses did not confess their crimes or gave up their properties. The paramilitary-government accord which became law 975 in 2005, was supposed to give way for victims of the violence to know the truth about what happened to their family members. Also to make public all the atrocities committed within the conflict. The turned over assets were going to be used to compensate their victims. However, the government decided to extradite them because of their lack of commitment to meet their part of the deal.

Another reason mentioned by the government of Colombia for their decision was that these bosses were still involved in ongoing criminal activities from behind bars.

So, where are they now?

Many of these paramilitary bosses are still behind bars in the United States with long jail sentences. These are mainly the result of drug trafficking and money laundering convictions. Some of the free extradited bosses are avoiding jail time in Colombia by requesting political asylums and other legal tactics. Only a few are back in Colombia facing criminal charges.

Salvatore Mancuso is one of the most awaited paramilitary bosses in Colombia. After completing a 15-year sentence in the US, he has avoided being sent back to face at least an 8-year prison sentence pending against him in Colombia. He has avoided extradition back to Colombia because he is also an Italian citizen. Therefore, the four or more extradition requests made by Colombian authorities have yet to be successful.

Others, such as Guillermo Perez Alzata, aka Pablo Sevillano, Eduardo Enrique Vengoechea Mola, aka El Flaco and Nodier Giraldo are now free. However, a few were extradited back to Colombia but have been recaptured to be judged for other charges, old and new.

It has been more than 15 years since the paramilitary benefits law went into effect and these bosses turned themselves in. After all this time, many victims of these paramilitary groups are still waiting to be compensated and to know the truth.