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Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were either in prison, or had gone over to his rivals, a shadowy paramilitary...

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AUC

AUC

The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia - AUC) was a coalition of right-wing death squads that used the conflict to camouflage their illicit economic activities. These included drug trafficking, displacement, kidnapping, and extortion. The AUC once operated in two-thirds of the country with approximately 30,000 soldiers.

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  • Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

    By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were either in prison, or had gone over to his rivals, a shadowy paramilitary group that called itself People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar (Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar - PEPES). Leading the hunt against him for the PEPES was one-legged former guerrilla and cartel enforcer Diego Murillo Bejarano, alias "Don Berna." Berna had turned on Escobar after El Patrón killed his boss, Fernando Galeano. As part of the plan to destroy Escobar, he and the PEPES had teamed up with the Colombian police's famed Search Bloc.

  • Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

    Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias 'Jorge 40' (Getty Images)

    Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible 30-year jail sentence for drug trafficking. In his own mind, Tovar was a hero, not a drug trafficker -- a warrior, not a criminal.

  • Court Ruling Stirs Controversy Over Colombia's 'Para-Economy'

    A court ruling that mentioned Postobón sparked controversy.

    A recent ruling by Colombia’s Justice and Peace Court that mentioned Postobón called for employees of the iconic soft drink company to be investigated for possible past collaboration with a paramilitary group but did not explicitly implicate the company itself, court documents show.

  • Colombia Investigates Over 100 Disappearances from Bogotá Prison

    Modelo Prison, Bogota, Colombia

    Prosecutors in Colombia believe over 100 people were murdered, dismembered and disappeared in a Bogotá prison between 1999 and 2001, in a macabre example of how armed groups and drug traffickers turned Colombian prisons into hubs of organized crime.

  • Prosecution Gaffe Absolves Colombia Paramilitary of Drug Trafficking

    Former AUC chief Salvatore Mancuso

    The Colombian Supreme Court has absolved a former paramilitary leader of drug trafficking charges, reigniting doubts about the country's willingness and ability to administer justice to its most renowned war criminals.

  • Surprisingly Light Sentence for Colombia Paramilitary Chief

    One of Colombia's most notorious paramilitary warlords, "Jorge 40," could be free from prison in the United States in just five years following the conclusion of a strange judicial episode that raises yet more questions over the United States role in prosecuting Colombian paramilitaries.

  • Colombia Paramilitary Leader 'El Aleman' Released From Prison

    Freddy Rendon, alias "El Aleman"

    A former Colombian paramilitary leader with extensive links to organized crime has been released from prison, which may have significant consequences for Colombia's underworld and the country's largest drug trafficking group, the Urabeños.

  • Colombia's 'Invisible' Drug Traffickers May Include 'Narco-Ghost'

    The BCB was one of Colombia's most powerful paramilitary blocs

    A profile of a Colombian drug trafficker who, after a long criminal career, disappeared off the radar highlights how key figures in the underworld continue to successfully operate undetected.

  • 140 Political Candidates in Colombia With Criminal Links: Report

    The Colombian Senate

    A forthcoming report by a prominent Colombian NGO says at least 140 candidates running for political office in Colombia have criminal ties -- including links to paramilitary and organized crime groups -- a troubling indication of the enduring bonds between politicians and criminal organizations in the country.

  • After US Sentencing, Colombia's Top Paramilitary Braces for Next Legal Battle

    AUC Commander Salvatore Mancuso

    The recent US sentencing of Salvatore Mancuso, Colombia's former paramilitary commander-in-chief, ends years of backroom negotiations but it did not answer the next question in his landmark case: whether Mancuso should get credit for meeting his obligations in Colombia's paramilitary demobilization process.