15 members of Colombia military wanted for arms trafficking

Posted on Mar 3 2014 - 7:32pm by Rico

Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has issued 15 arrest warrants following recent investigations into corruption within the Armed Forces.

The military servicemen are wanted for their supposed involvement in the illegal trade and trafficking of arms in different battalions around the country. This is the most recent development regarding investigations that began in 2012 surrounding a corruption network within Colombia’s Armed Forces.

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The 15 warrants were directed at four active and six retired servicemen, as well as two members of the National Police. According to Colombian newspaper Semana, 12 of the 14 currently in liberty have already been captured.

At the head of the arms trafficking ring is Colonel Robinson Gonzalez del Rio – who is already in prison since 2012 for his alleged involvement in the “false positives” scandal, and who was a central figure in an embezzlement revelations disclosed last February by Semana.

FACT SHEET: False Positives

Intercepted phone calls provided by state authorities show that, although imprisoned and on trial for two murders, Gonzalez directed the sale of decommissioned military weapons to illegal groups.

The weapons were reportedly disarmed and removed from military bases to be sold to “Los Urabenos,” the most powerful criminal organization in Colombia, and a dissident faction of the criminal group ERPAC, based in the east of the country.

Recorded evidence also links Gonzalez to a former magistrate of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Council and a family member, with which the colonel discussed the purchase of arms and ammunition.

Investigations began in 2012 following a series of accusations regarding the trade and trafficking of arms in military battalions.

Until last month the Colonel Gonzalez enjoyed little to no security from prison officials, taking advantage of his high rank to leave the prison walls at his will, control illicit activities and maintain close contact with various other important military officials implicated in the corruption scandal. He was transferred to La Picota prison in Bogota last February following Semana’s leaks.

Gonzalez will now have to defend himself at an open hearing against charges of conspiracy, arms trafficking and the trafficking of arms for private use by the Armed Forces.

This comes amidst inquiries regarding the embezzlement accusations implicating a number of military officials, in which high ranking officers received kickbacks from army contracts reaching up to 50 percent of the original agreement.

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Those wanted for arrest will be investigated by a specialized prosecutor in Monteria, Cordoba, to where they will be transferred imminently.


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