Colombia Offers Rewards for the Capture of Assassins of Social Leaders

Colombia Offers Rewards for the Capture of Assassins of Social Leaders

By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo
July 20, 2020

“The Colombian Security Forces will continue to work to capture those most wanted for the killings of social leaders and former FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] members, in cooperation with citizens,” Colombian Minister of Defense Carlos Holmes Trujillo García told Diálogo. “Our commitment is to confront these criminal structures with greater force.”

On June 2, the Colombian government published the names and aliases of those who attacked civil leaders and people who were undergoing the reintegration process. The Ministry of Defense is offering rewards ranging from $140,000 up to nearly $1.125 million, in exchange for information that leads to these criminals.

Minister Trujillo invited “the entire society to support the Public Force’s work by providing essential information to help capture the 14 main leaders behind these killings […], with the aim of weakening the command and control, financial, and logistics structures of these groups.”

The list begins with Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, alias Gabino, top leader of the National Liberation Army (ELN, in Spanish), for whom authorities are offering a nearly $1.25 million reward. “The ELN is the criminal organization responsible for most of the killings of social leaders in the country,” Colombia’s Radio Caracol reported.

In the case of Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, alias Otoniel, head of the Clan del Golfo and the most wanted narcotrafficker in the country, Colombia is offering about $842,000. The U.S. government has charged him with narcotrafficking and terrorism, and is offering up to $5 million for his capture.

For the leader of the criminal ring los Caparros, Emiliano Alcides Osorio Maceas, alias Caín or Pilatos, the Ministry of Defense is offering a reward of $140,000. Los Caparros is one of the main rings devoted to narcotrafficking and illegal mining, the Colombian daily El Tiempo reported.

The United Nations (U.N.) says in its report 2019, The Most Violent Year for Former FARC Combatants in Colombia that at least 303 social leaders and human rights advocates, in addition to 173 former FARC guerrillas, have been killed since the peace accord was signed in Colombia in 2016.

The Ministry of Defense presented a summary of the campaign to capture those responsible for the killings of social leaders. Authorities have captured 14 of the 31 criminals on the list (published in 2019), while two were killed, the institution said.

These forceful measures by the authorities deal a serious blow to the Clan del Golfo, Los Caparros, Los Pelusos, and the residual organized armed group Structure 40, and have also brought down criminal groups such as Los Monos and Los Ronda.

“Many of these captures were possible due to citizen cooperation and the commitment of the Military Forces, the Police, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Public Force,” Trujillo said. “Exposing these criminals is a very effective mechanism to capture and neutralize criminal organizations wherever they are.”