A second former security chief of ex-Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is under investigation for ties to drug trafficking, raising further questions about the Uribe administration’s criminal connections.
US and Colombian authorities are in possession of recordings of incriminating phone calls linking General Flavio Buitrago Delgadillo to Marco Gil Garzon, alias “El Papero,” a recently arrested alleged drug trafficker, reported El Universal.
The content of the calls has not been made public. However, days before Buitrago was called in for questioning over the issue, El Tiempo reported that following El Papero’s arrest, prosecutors had traced 125 calls made by his associates to “influential people” in an attempt to secure his freedom. Several of the calls were made to an unidentified police official.
Buitrago firmly denied any wrongdoing, issuing a press release in which he said his accusers wanted to “tarnish his name.” The general admitted having met El Papero, but only in a professional capacity when the alleged narco’s daughter was kidnapped.
El Papero is believed to have deep ties to the drug trade, going back to the 1980s when he worked with Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel.
InSight Crime Analysis
While it is too soon to judge Buitrago over the allegations, the fact that another member of Uribe’s inner circle has fallen under suspicion should come as no surprise.
Buitrago became Uribe’s security chief after replacing General Mauricio Santoyo, who is currently in prison in the United States after being found guilty of working with Medellin mafia the Oficina de Envigado and the paramilitaries of the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).
One of Uribe’s appointments to head the now dismantled security agency the Department of Administrative Security (DAS), Jorge Noguera, has been convicted of colluding with paramilitaries, while another appointee, Maria del Pilar Hurtado, is wanted in connection with the DAS wiretapping scandal. Dozens of other politicians linked to Uribe have been prosecuted for ties to paramilitaries, including his family members.
Uribe began his political career in narco-dominated Medellin in the 80s and has frequently been accused of working with drug traffickers — including Pablo Escobar. Uribe has always fiercely denied the charges and claims all of his security appointments were made in good faith.