Only 17 of the 284 alleged members of neo-paramilitary organization ERPAC were sent to jail after their surrender to authorities. The remaining 267 were released because they are not charged with any crimes.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, there is no official explanation to why the vast majority of members of the feared drug-trafficking organization were set free.
Weekly Semana reported that judicial authorities had only charged 17 of the ERPAC members previous to their surrender on Thursday and Friday. The remaining members reportedly had no criminal record or criminal charges against them at the time of their surrender.
According to the weekly, judicial sources have said it was possible these members will be charged on a later date.
Authorities in charge of the demobilization of the ERPAC faction reported that the demobilized members handed over 123 rifles and ammunition, 5 mortars, two MGL grenade launchers and two M60 machine guns.
ERPAC commander “Carocho” announced he had begun negotiating the demobilization of 450 members of his group earlier this year. However, according to organized crime analysis website InSight Crime, the group is estimated to have 1,200 members, meaning that more than three quarters of the group remain active.
Colombian authorities have stressed that members of illegal armed group like ERPAC would be receiving no legal benefits in return for their demolization, but would be prosecuted under criminal law.
ERPAC is one of the groups formed by former members of the demobilized paramilitary organization AUC. Its founder, “Cuchillo” was killed in an army operation in December last year.