Authorities capture 2 leading ERPAC members

Two allegedly key figures in the neo-paramilitary group ERPAC have been captured by Colombian authorities, one of whom was in charge of infiltrating October’s upcoming regional elections while the other was the group’s chief assassin.

One of the detained, Jose Alexander Vargas Velasco, alias “El Politico,” was apparently in the process of developing contacts with electoral candidates in order to maintain the political power of the criminal organization, El Espectador reported Thursday.

A police report stated that he had been offering economic support, as well as security and votes for the candidates at all levels of regional government in the central and eastern departments of Meta, Guaviare and Vichada, where ERPAC chiefly operate.

El Politico, who was apprehended in San Jose del Guaviare, is considered by authorities to be a close confidant of Jose Eberto Lopez Montero, alias “Caracho,” the presumed ERPAC leader who took control following the death of Pedro Oliveira Guerrero, alias “Cuchillo,” in December 2010.

The second man detained, Ever Santos Molina Mejia, alias “Calabre,” is also believed to be a close confidant of Caracho, El Colombiano reported Wednesday.

Calabre, the supposed head of ERPAC’s assassins unit, was detained in Meta and is currently the subject of negotiations as “there is much interest from U.S. authorities [in] his possible extradition,” said General Carlos Mena, adding that there is important information that “links him to drug trafficking.”

The former AUC paramilitary, who was also in charge of finances and extortion, was apparently one of the most wanted men in the departments of Meta and Guaviare.

Both men face a series of charges including forced displacement, child recruitment, extortion and murder.

Additional information

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