Colombia: 450 Former Paramilitaries Are Seeking to Surrender

By Dialogo
December 20, 2011

Approximately 450 members of a Colombian gang working for drug traffickers, made up largely of former paramilitaries, are expected to turn themselves in to the authorities before the end of 2011, Colombian news media said.

The daily El Tiempo, citing official sources, reported that the surrender, coordinated by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, is expected to take place before the end of the year, and it specified that the Colombian Catholic Church has also played a mediating role in this process.

“Everything is all ready for around 450 members of the Anti-subversive Popular Revolutionary Army of Colombia (Erpac) to surrender to law enforcement,” the daily said, attributing its information to high-ranking officials.

For its part, Radio Caracol indicated that it had confirmed with “government sources,” which it did not reveal, that the militants are expected to turn themselves in before the end of 2011.

In statements to Semana magazine in November, the gang’s leader, Eberto López Montero, alias ‘Caracho,’ had already announced his intention to turn himself in with several hundred men.

The former militants are expected to surrender to local law enforcement in a ceremony organized in Meta and Guaviare departments, where it is even expected that 60 gang leaders will turn themselves in.

“Eberto López Montero, alias ‘Caracho,’ and Germán Ramírez Devia, ‘Vacafiada,’ are at the head of the group, the two outlaws who assumed command of the group following the death of the previous leader and founder ‘Cuchillo’ [‘Knife’] and who initiated contact with the authorities several months ago, through their lawyers,” El Tiempo specified.

In December 2010, Colombian authorities killed “Cuchillo,” for whom the United States was offering a reward of 2.5 million dollars.

This would be the first surrender of this magnitude since the large demobilizations of paramilitary militias produced by the negotiations between Álvaro Uribe’s administration (2002-2010) and the extreme right-wing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), between 2003 and 2006.

Erpac is characterized by the authorities as a gang made up largely of former paramilitaries and drug traffickers and represents the greatest risk to public order, according to the Colombian police.